What is history and why should we study it? Is there such a thing as historical truth? Is history a science? One of the most accomplished historians at work today, John Lewis Gaddis, answers these and other questions in this short, witty, and humane book. The Landscape of History provides a searching look at the historian's craft, as well as a strong argument for why a historical consciousness should matter to us today.Gaddis points out that while the historical method is more sophisticated than most historians realize, it doesn't require unintelligible prose to explain. Like cartographers mapping landscapes, historians represent what they can never replicate. In doing so, they combine the techniques of artists, geologists, paleontologists, and evolutionary biologists. Their approaches parallel, in intriguing ways, the new sciences of chaos, complexity, and criticality. They don't much resemble what happens in the social sciences, where the pursuit of independent variables functioning with static systems seems increasingly divorced from the world as we know it. So who's really being scientific and who isn't? This question too is one Gaddis explores, in ways that are certain to spark interdisciplinary controversy. Written in the tradition of Marc Bloch and E.H. Carr, The Landscape of History is at once an engaging introduction to the historical method for beginners, a powerful reaffirmation of it for practitioners, a startling challenge to social scientists, and an effective skewering of post-modernist claims that we can't know anything at all about the past. It will be essential reading for anyone who reads, writes, teaches, or cares about history.
From thoughtful pieces on the historian's role to striking insights into America's past and present to trenchant observations on the international scene, Barbara W. Tuchman looks at history in a unique way and draws lessons from what she sees. Spanning more than four decades of writing in The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, Harper's, The Nation, and The Saturday Evening Post, Tuchman weighs in on a range of eclectic topics, from Israel and Mao Tse-tung to a Freudian reading of Woodrow Wilson. This is a splendid body of work, the story of a lifetime spent "practicing history."
Praise for Practicing History "Persuades and enthralls . . . I can think of no better primer for the nonexpert who wishes to learn history."--Chicago Sun-Times
"Provocative, consistent, and beautifully readable, an event not to be missed by history buffs."--Baltimore Sun
"A delight to read."--The New York Times Book Review
Howard Zinn was perhaps the best-known and most widely celebrated popular interpreter of American history in the twentieth century, renowned as a bestselling author, a political activist, a lecturer, and one of America's most recognizable and admired progressive voices.His rich, complicated, and fascinating life placed Zinn at the heart of the signal events of modern American history--from the battlefields of World War II to the McCarthy era, the civil rights and the antiwar movements, and beyond. A bombardier who later renounced war, a son of working-class parents who earned a doctorate at Columbia, a white professor who taught at the historically black Spelman College in Atlanta, a committed scholar who will be forever remembered as a devoted "people's historian"--Howard Zinn blazed a bold, iconoclastic path through the turbulent second half of the twentieth century. For the millions who were moved by Zinn's personal example of political engagement and by his inspiring "bottom up" history, here is an authoritative biography of this towering figure--by Martin Duberman, recipient of the American Historical Association's 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award. Given exclusive access to the previously closed Zinn archives, Duberman's impeccably researched biography is illustrated with never-before-published photos from the Zinn family collection. Howard Zinn: A Life on the Left is a major publishing event that brings to life one of the most inspiring figures of our time.
Acclaimed historian Margaret MacMillan explores here the many ways in which history affects us all. She shows how a deeper engagement with history, both as individuals and in the sphere of public debate, can help us understand ourselves and the world better. But she also warns that history can be misused and lead to misunderstanding. History is used to justify religious movements and political campaigns alike. Dictators may suppress history because it undermines their ideas, agendas, or claims to absolute authority. Nationalists may tell false, one-sided, or misleading stories about the past. Political leaders might mobilize their people by telling lies. It is imperative that we have an understanding of the past and avoid these and other common traps in thinking to which many fall prey. This brilliantly reasoned work, alive with incident and figures both great and infamous, will compel us to examine history anew--and skillfully illuminates why it is important to treat the past with care.
In this now classic book, internationally famed journalist Ian Buruma examines how Germany and Japan have attempted to come to terms with their conduct during World War II--a war that they aggressively began and humiliatingly lost, and in the course of which they committed monstrous war crimes. As he travels through both countries, to Berlin and Tokyo, Hiroshima and Auschwitz, he encounters people who are remarkably honest in confronting the past and others who astonish by their evasions of responsibility, some who wish to forget the past and others who wish to use it as a warning against the resurgence of militarism.Buruma explores these contrasting responses to the war and the two countries' very different ways of memorializing its atrocities, as well as the ways in which political movements, government policies, literature, and art have been shaped by its shadow. Today, seventy years after the end of the war, he finds that while the Germans have for the most part coped with the darkest period of their history, the Japanese remain haunted by historical controversies that should have been resolved long ago. Sensitive yet unsparing, complex and unsettling, this is a profound study of how people face up to or deny terrible legacies of guilt and shame.
From New Yorker staff writer and Harvard historian Jill Lepore, the dark, spellbinding tale of her restless search for the long-lost, longest book ever written, a century-old manuscript called "The Oral History of Our Time."Joe Gould, a madman, believed he was the most brilliant historian of the twentieth century. So did some of his friends, a group of modernist writers and artists that included E. E. Cummings, Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, John Dos Passos, and Ezra Pound. Gould began his life's work before the First World War, announcing that he intended to write down nearly everything anyone ever said to him. "I am trying to preserve as much detail as I can about the normal life of every day people," he explained, because "as a rule, history does not deal with such small fry." By 1942, when The New Yorker published a profile of Gould written by the reporter Joseph Mitchell, Gould's manuscript had grown to more than nine million words. But when Gould died in 1957, in a mental hospital, the manuscript was nowhere to be found. Then, in 1964, in "Joe Gould's Secret," a second profile, Mitchell claimed that "The Oral History of Our Time" had been, all along, merely a figment of Gould's imagination. Lepore, unpersuaded, decided to find out.
Joe Gould's Teeth is a Poe-like tale of detection, madness, and invention. Digging through archives all over the country, Lepore unearthed evidence that "The Oral History of Our Time" did in fact once exist. Relying on letters, scraps, and Gould's own diaries and notebooks--including volumes of his lost manuscript--Lepore argues that Joe Gould's real secret had to do with sex and the color line, with modernists' relationship to the Harlem Renaissance, and, above all, with Gould's terrifying obsession with the African American sculptor Augusta Savage. In ways that even Gould himself could not have imagined, what Gould wrote down really is a history of our time: unsettling and ferocious.
How should historians speak truth to power - and why does it matter? Why is five hundred years better than five months or five years as a planning horizon? And why is history - especially long-term history - so essential to understanding the multiple pasts which gave rise to our conflicted present? The History Manifesto is a call to arms to historians and everyone interested in the role of history in contemporary society. Leading historians Jo Guldi and David Armitage identify a recent shift back to longer-term narratives, following many decades of increasing specialisation, which they argue is vital for the future of historical scholarship and how it is communicated. This provocative and thoughtful book makes an important intervention in the debate about the role of history and the humanities in a digital age. It will provoke discussion among policymakers, activists and entrepreneurs as well as ordinary listeners, viewers, readers, students and teachers. This title is also available as Open Access.