The Hispanist Paul Preston has acknowledged that he is still far from reaching final conclusions on what he has considered "the central mystery", and that he has specified "why a country, be it Spain or Great Britain, acquires an incompetent and indifferent political class to the national interest. "
Paul Preston has said it in his speech when he was named doctor honoris causa by the University of Cantabria, in which he also referred, briefly, to the 'brexit' as "a source of perplexity and uneasiness".
Preston has been named doctor honoris causa in an act in which he received the same distinction Telecommunications engineer, pioneer in studies of optical bistability and chaotic phenomena, José Antonio Martín Pereda.
The act of delivery of both distinctions has been chaired by the rector of the University of Cantabria (UC), Ángel Pazos.
The Hispanist thanked the appointment for a distinction at the UC, in Santander, "in this region and in Spain."
"Spain, Cantabria and its university, and the city of Santander are very important in my life," said Paul Preston, who recalled that he arrived in Santander in 1981.
He has remembered his passing through "the summer schools of the Menéndez Pelayo University" and his friendship "with the great Spaniard Carlos Herreros and his family", in addition to the "good professional relationship" that he established with contemporary historians of the University of Cantabria, like Manuel Suárez and Ángeles Barrio.
He also recalled that, on the occasion of his work "The Spanish Holocaust," he addressed "multiple issues that affected the Santander of the time," such as anticleralism and "violence in the spring of 1936 and during the civil war," in addition to the repression in the Cantabrian capital and the province.
Paul Preston has reflected on his career, since he won a scholarship to study history at the University of Oxford, and stressed that when he entered that institution had "no idea" of what was to be his later life.
He explained that contemporary history was his "great interest", although many professors "said with an Olympian disdain that contemporary history was the work of journalists".
And in his speech, he also recalled "the very different heat" with which people received their efforts to learn Spanish in their first stays in this country. "From the very first moment I found myself as if I were at home," he said.
He added that he has always tried to be available to students and readers and that he discovered "almost by accident" that he had "a certain biographer's vocation". "What happens is that I was always fascinated by the relationship and interaction between individuals and the great historical movements," he stressed.
Paul Preston has highlighted that really the only thing he knows anything about is the contemporary history of Spain. "Sometimes my wife says to me: 'Why do not we go to India?', And I answered: 'It's that there are pieces of Spain that I still do not know'," he added.