Author's book cancelled after 'not including enough black academics'

Acclaimed British author Richard Cohen’s new book on historians is cancelled in the US amid backlash at him for ‘not including enough black academics’

  • Author Richard Cohen is writing new 780-page book called ‘The History Makers’
  • Publisher Random House concerned it did not contain enough black academics
  • Mr Cohen, 75, wrote extra 18,000 words after US publisher raised the concerns
  • But, according to the Guardian, Random House has withdrawn from publication
  • The book, about the work of historians, will still be published in UK next month 

A new history book by an acclaimed British author has reportedly been dropped by its US publisher over concerns it was ‘too white’.

Richard Cohen was asked to produce more for work for his upcoming book ‘The History Makers’ because publishers were concerned the 780-page book failed to feature enough black historians, academics and writers.

Mr Cohen, 75, who wrote the acclaimed Chasing The Sun, is said to have written 18,000 extra words covering the work of black historians.

Academics such such as Frederick Douglass and Booker T Washington are said to have been covered in the additional work.

But US publisher Random House has still decided to drop the book, according to the Guardian.

Mr Cohen, 75, who wrote the acclaimed Chasing The Sun, is said to have written 18,000 extra words covering the work of black historians after concerns were raised by publishers that the book did not fairly reflect the contribution of black academics

Mr Cohen, 75, told the paper the move ‘was to do with the publisher’s sensitivities’.

The book is still due to be published in the UK by Weidenfeld & Nicolson next month.

Richard Cohen was asked to produce more for work for his upcoming book ‘The History Makers’

According to the publisher, the book is: ‘An epic exploration of who writes about the past and how the biases of certain storytellers continue to influence our ideas about history (and about who we are) today’.

The book covers around 2,500 years of history and looks through the eyes of history’s most famous writers and historians.

These include Roman historian Tacitus, French writer Voltaire and legendary English playwright William Shakespeare.

Work by modern day historians such as David Starkey also features.

But Random House, part of the larger Penguin Random House group, are said to have raised concern that the initial work did not feature the significant contribution of black historians and academics.

Mr Cohen is said to have responded by writing extra content, including a new chapter largely about black history and expanding on his chapter on the American Civil war.

A section on the work of Frederick Douglass, a man who escaped slavery before writing a historical memoir, was part of the additional content, according to the Guardian

A section on the work of Frederick Douglass, a man who escaped slavery before writing a historical memoir, was part of the additional content, according to the Guardian.

Historian and equal rights activist WEB Du Bois is also said to have featured in the extra content, along with Leo Africanus, a Berber who wrote historical pieces on the Magreb and Nile Valley.

MailOnline has contacted Mr Cohen and Random House for comment. 

Frederick Douglass: The man who escaped slavery and became an influential social reformer

Frederick Douglass was an American abolitionist and social reformer who lived in the US in 19th Century.

He was born into slavery in 1817, initially growing up in a plantation in Maryland, before being moved to the city of Baltimore.

He was taught to read and write and was later ‘hired out’ by another plantation owner to teach other slaves literary skills.

Douglass later fell in love with a free black woman, Anna Murray, in Baltimore, strengthening his belief he could be free himself.

In 1838, Douglass successfully escaped by boarding a northbound train and later reaching New York City.

He later moved with Murray to Massachusetts. He became a strong voice in social reform and joined the American Anti-Slavery Society and wrote biographies detailing his life as a slave. 

Douglass also campaigned on the issues of women’s rights. He later ran for Vice President, becoming the first African-American to do so.

Douglass is today considered one of the most influential black writers of his generation.

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