Ancient and Modern History Personal Statement Example 2

It was only after buying a set of First World War medals, studying them, and more importantly researching their recipient, that I really understood Winston Churchill’s quote ‘"A medal glitters but it also casts a shadow", and my interest in history was ignited. The story of an 18 year old, killed on the first day of the 1918 Spring Offensive, is hardly a unique one. Yet the story of a whole human life, caught up in a world event of such magnitude, represented in a circular piece of one hundred year old copper, is fascinating.

It was this interest with the wars of the 20th century that began my interest in modern history, and as a result I have enjoyed reading books from Niall Ferguson’s ‘Empire’, to Robert Graves’s sardonic ‘Goodbye to all that’, which provides an excellent critique of the duration and aftermath of involvement in the First World War from a human perspective. However, my interest in history is not limited to the modern. I also have a deep and growing interest in Ancient History, Wanting to explore the Ancient World further, I entered the Vellacott History Competition, run by Peterhouse College, Cambridge, writing on the title, ‘Should Classical Sparta be defined as a totalitarian state?” I have never formally studied Ancient history, and to begin with using primary sources from writers such as Aristotle and Plutarch was challenging, made more so by the fact that I had no background knowledge of the period on which I was writing. None the less, by reading books such as Paul Cartledge’s ‘The Spartans’ or John Buckler’s ‘Aegean Greece in the Fourth Century BC’ I produced a 4000 word essay, that examined the Spartan establishment in the context of a modern political theory (I mainly referenced Friedrich and Brzezinski’s ‘Totalitarian Dictatorship and Autocracy’ but also explored the work of Hannah Arendt and George Orwell). Since reading Mansfield’s ‘The History of the Middle East’ I have decided to write my History coursework on the fall of Constantinople, 1453.

My interest in Politics and International Relations has developed and expanded my interest in Ancient and Modern history. Reading Paul Kennedy’s ‘The History of the Great Powers’ gave me an insight into the historical causes of conflict, as well as the nature of the Great power state, something I elaborated on in my EPQ. Both Robert Kagan’s ‘The Return of History’ and Benjamin Barber’s ‘Jihad vs McWorld’ drew on historical models to examine the divisions between modern nations, and the idea of conflict resolution through the re-examination of past events is fascinating. As well as campaigning for the Stronger In campaign during the EU referendum and the Labour Party Stronger In campaign during the EU referendum, I also run the student run Politics Society at my school, and has hosted speakers such as John Bercow MP, Natalie Bennet, and Douglas Carswell MP.

In this statement I have outlined my key areas of interest – the links between Ancient and modern state ship and the historical relationship between nations. These interests have culminated in my EPQ, “To what extent can similarities be drawn between the Roman Empire and the Modern USA?” I explore what links and divides two examples of Empire, operating in radically different times but in arguably similar ways. And whilst comparing the writings of, say, Henry Kissinger and Suetonius is challenging, it provides a fascinating insight into the perceptions of those living in and writing about great empires. I have also been exploring more contemporary writing, such as Niall Fergusons ‘Colossus’ and Mary Beard’s recent ‘SPQR’

Outside of school, I am a keen debater, having set up my secondary schools debating society that went on to win at competitions hosted by the Rotary Club and the English Speaking Union at both a local and regional level. I am also a member of the National Youth Theatre of GB, and I hope to fully take advantage of the theatrical opportunities provided by university.

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