The author, professor of modern history at the University of Portsmouth, argues that we are suffering from an attack of social and cultural confusion and amnesia. The former great powers of the historic 'West' – especially Britain, the USA and France – seem to be abandoning the wisdom of maturity for senescent daydreams of recovered youth. Along the way they are stirring up old hatreds, giving disturbing voice to destructive rage, and risking the collapse of their capacity for decisive, effective, and just governance. At the core of this is an abandonment of political attention to history, understood as a clear empirical grounding in how we reached our present condition. Historical stories are deployed in public debate as little more than dangerous fantasies.