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Robert Cook in the 'Academic Armchair'

It’s Tuesday and it’s raining. I’m not sure why the weather needs to be defined considering it is always raining but I felt that the scene needed to be set.  I am in an office in the Arts building talking to Robert Cook, a professor of American History, who has kindly agreed to spare five minutes of his time to answer a few questions.

First, I started with the intellectual stuff; the ‘what are you working on?’ kind of questions before moving on to the more serious ones.  Not ‘what is the meaning of life?’ type questions, I’m talking very serious stuff… like time travel.

Professor Cook has been at Sussex since 2007 and has most recently been working on a collection of essays on the Succession Crisis.  For those who are unfamiliar with this period of history, it is the lead up to the American Civil War and his book, published next year, comes out of a series of lectures held in the Cunliffe Centre.  He is currently working on the memory of the Civil War.

His first degree (yes, while most of us struggle through one, some people achieve more) was in American and European History at Warwick.  It was here his interest in American History develop.  It was also here that he discovered that the American Civil War is his favourite historical period as it is a watershed moment in American History and defines the country as a nation.

Favourite place to teach on campus is Fulton but perhaps without the, and I quote, “robot windows”.

So onto that important question, if time travel was possible, where would he go?  It would be to November 1861, in Springfield, Illinois to meet Abraham Lincoln just after his Presidential election success or back to England in the 1890s.

Why?  It was the last time his football team, Aston Villa, were any good!

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