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    Historians' Fallacies : Toward a Logic of Historical Thought
    by David H. Fischer
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (30 January, 1970)
    list price: $15.00 -- our price: $15.00
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    Reviews (12)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Commendable goal, poor follow through
    I used Fischer's book in my Master's thesis. I had to not only go through it with a fine-toothed comb, but I also had to look up the sources Fischer claims made fallacious arguments.Although Ficher has a praise-worthy goal for his book, he falls short of meeting this goal (L.O. Mink discusses this in great detail in his review of Fischer's book).Fischer often incorrectly attributes the label "fallacy" to some parts of texts.In order to qualify as a logical fallacy, the text *must* be making a conclusion based on evidence that does not support that conclusion.Fischer frequently labels things as fallacies that are not drawing any conclusion or even making an argument, particularly in his section on analogy fallacies.
    Moreover, Fischer commits some pretty egregious errors in identifying fallacies; he mislabels a number of fallacies.In some cases, he has skewed an author's words in order to find a fallacy.
    I think Fischer's book brings to light an issue in historiography that too many historians are not aware of; however, his work is riddled with errors.Hisotrians should read this text should follow on with a text on logic.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Fischer Gave Name to All the Fallacies
    ?and then some

    The study of history carries with it a load of fascinating philosophical and epistemological questions. Beyond such generalities such as "what is the nature of truth?", historians have to decide which facts are relevant to the case they are studying, what are causes in history, and how to make a narrative, a book or a mathematical model, that will capture something significant of the world.

    All of these are interesting questions, but except peripherally, David Herbert Fischer doesn't discuss them. Rather, Fischer tries to track down specific fallacies that historians commit, and spell them out, apparently in order to help other scholars avoid them.

    "Historians' Fallacies" is basically a collection and a catalogue of errors, some well known ones, such as "the fallacy of post hoc, propter hoc" (following, therefore caused by, p. 166) or "the pathetic fallacy" (ascribing animate behavior to inanimate objects, pp. 190-193) and some as obscure as "the fallacy of indiscriminate pluralism" (enumerating multiple causes without discrimination, pp. 175-177).

    There are at least three commendable aspects to Fischer's study. First, Fischer is a fine writer, with remarkable turns of phrases: "Sir Lewis [Namier] was no enemy of chosenness in either facts or people. He was, indeed, a committed Zionist in both respects." (p. 69).

    Another is Fischer's willingness to name names. Too many critics prefer uses such as "many writers", etc, but although Fischer does occasionally shy away (such as in his discussion of ad hominem attacks pp.290-293), he's willing to openly criticize some leading historians and intellectuals. Nor does Fischer satisfy himself with attacking such usual suspects as Robert Fogel, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and Arnold Toynbee. Everyone who has any interest at all in American intellectual history of the 20th century will find at least some of his heroes under fire: Historians from Charles Beard to E.P. Thompson, from economist Kenneth Boulding (who was the mentor of one of my college professors) to Henry Kissinger. My favorite is the critique of Southern historian C. Vann Woodward:

    "Through two revisions, the author has held his ground with a tenacity worthy of a better cause. The result is another fallacy ? the overwhelming exception. We are now told that the interpretation applies to all Southern institutions except churches, schools, militia, hotels, restaurants, public buildings, jails, hospitals, asylums, gardens, and the New Orleans Opera House" (p. 149 n).

    A third highpoint of the book is that it sometimes hits the bull's eye. Under "the fallacy of semantical questions", Fischer criticizes historians who focus on labels instead of content such as the 'prolonged dispute among American colonial historians over the question "Was the political structure of seventeenth-century America 'democratic' or 'Aristocratic'?"' (p.22). If you've never read studies who committed the same offence, you will not recognize the immense desire to strangle a historian who does.

    But in the attempt to describe the errors of Historians, Fischer falls to the same trap that my Business courses in college fell into ? they tried to make laws and regularities of something that if far too context dependant for that. So almost all the time, what you've got is specific instances of erring historians, with fallacies which say something like "don't exaggerate", "do careful research" and "use sound judgment".

    When it comes to generalize, to give positive insight as how to go on a historian's business, Fischer's advice is invariably trivial, true-but-obvious. "Motives are usually pluralistic in both their number and their nature. Abraham Maslow writes, 'typically an act has more than one motive'. To this, one might add that it has motives of more than one kind." Oh really? (p. 214)

    Maybe some of my criticism of Fischer's book is (as he might have said) anachronistic. Fischer objects to unnecessary jargon: "Ordinary everyday words like "simple" are replaced by monstrosities such as "simplistic" without any refinement of meaning" (p.285). Today, I doubt anyone would write about a simple solution while meaning a simplistic one, but maybe in the 1960s the distinction was not as clear.

    Within the point by point critiques of Historians' errors, there seems to be an overarching thesis that remains implicit, but that guides Fischer's thought process: the inevitability of history, or the assumption that events are caused by the forces of history, rather then the actions of individuals.

    Fischer calls the "fallacy of responsibility as cause", confusing the problem of agency with that of ethics (pp.182-183). If I understand him correctly, he seems to argue that individual leaders are not responsible to wide scale events "The cause of the failure of Reconstruction race policy muse surely be sought in general phenomena for which no free and responsible human agent can be held to blame" (Ibid.). Is Fischer really saying that there was nothing that, say, Andrew Johnson or Grant could've done better differently? Or that it wouldn't have mattered? If he does, then he robs human beings of their abilities to change the future. That's a highly controversial (and clearly metaphysical) position, and one that clashes with his call for using history as a way to teach people rationality (pp. 316-318).

    Despite its frequent wit and occasional insight, Fischer's book does not quite illuminate a path for other historians to follow. Despite his claims, I don't think we're any closer to a logic of historical thought then we were before.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Not Only For Historians
    Fischer is a classic. It should be kept readily at hand by anyone who considers clear thought important. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0061315451
    Sales Rank: 130417
    Subjects:  1. Historiography    2. History    3. History - General History    4. Methodology    5. Reference    6. History / Historiography   


    $15.00

    Dead Certainties : Unwarranted Speculations (Unwarranted Speculations)
    by SIMON SCHAMA
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (02 June, 1992)
    list price: $17.00 -- our price: $11.56
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    Reviews (5)

    4-0 out of 5 stars An "Unwarranted" Review?
    Simon Schama's "Dead Certainties (Unwarranted Speculations)" is an interesting foray into the murky realm of historiography. The book is comprised of two "tales:" that of General James Wolfe who (purportedly) meets his end at the Battle of Quebec in 1759 and that of George Parkman, a Harvard Professor who met a grisly end in 1849 - which Schama treats as an historical "murder mystery."

    Critics of this work charge that Schama has engaged in historical chicanery by incorporating fiction into both accounts and has, thus, mucked up the waters of what is a proper "history." To this, Schama admits so much in his text and also admits to that being his point.

    What is interesting is Schama's attempt to stake out a dividing line between what is "historical fact" and what is "historical fiction" and in so doing, obliterate that line. After all, historical fiction is based upon "historical fact" and many historians have written histories based upon "historical fact" that were modified or even overturned after those "historical facts" were proven to be inventions of fiction.

    We have a certain reliance on a consistent historical past "reality" or else we run into an Orwellian 1984 reality of a constantly changing historical past. Yet, we can never be quite certain of the "facts" that make up our histories and as Schama puts it:

    "... historians are left forever chasing shadows, painfully aware of their inability ever to reconstruct a dead world in its completeness, however thorough or revealing their documentation. Of course they make do with other work: the business of formulating problems, of supplying explanations about cause and effect. But the certainty of such answers always remains contingent on their unavoidable remoteness from their subjects. We are doomed to be forever hailing someone who has just gone around the corner and out of earshot." (p. 320)

    "Dead Certainties" is an engaging and thoughtful piece of scholarship/literature that should be taken as such - and as such, it is not perfect.

    4-0 out of 5 stars So, you want to read history???
    A few years ago, I became a professional social scientist.As such, I became tangled in the beginning...what is truth?I never figured it out, but I had to go to work and earn a living so I took up the viewpoint that seemed most reasonable --material empiricism -- and began documenting my version of truth and getting it published.

    In DEAD CERTAINTIES (UNWARRENTED SPECULATION),Simon Schama raises important questions about the truth of history. How do historians know what really happened?Well the truth is, they don't.At best, our reconstructions of the past are partial truths.They are partial truths because no one is free from prejudice.They are partial truths, because try as we might to be objective, we cannot help but place our own interpretation on "facts." They are partial truths because eye witnesses to history seldom know all the "facts."They are partial truths because language is alive and word meanings change over time.And, they are partial truths because eye witnesses often lie.

    What really happened in the past times?In recent years, new historical practicioners have begun to revisit primary materials and attempt to piece together their version of what these documents tell them.This revisionist history has it's supporters, but in the end, who is to say their interpretations are free of bias and agenda?

    In DEAD CERTAINTIES Schama revisits the story of Wolfe the British hero of the 1700's on the 'Heights of Abraham' in Canada.Probably every Canadian school child of my generation, plus a few Americans, remembers the words, "Wolfe the dauntless hero came and planted firm Britannia's flag on Canada's fair domain." I don't know if it's still politically correct to sing these words in Canada, but I believe at one time they were the words to the national anthem.

    Everyone who's ever taken a course in art has probably seen a photograph of Benjamin West's monumental painting"The Death of General Wolfe."It is a magnificent painting of a beautiful young man in the last agony of life, looking toward a distant and dramatic horizon.The painting has inspired generations of Canadians to national patriotism. The painting supposedly depicts the last hour of General Wolfe. Schama says, "Not so fast."He then goes on to tell as best he can given the material at hand, what he believes happened on that fateful day when General Wolfe met his maker (maybe he did, maybe he didn't).

    The book also contains a second "story" about a murder that took place in New England in the last century.This "story" reads like a detective fiction.Schama demonstrates though his own research who he thinks the real killer was. It is an excellent read even if you don't like history.

    This book sheds a little light on historiography--how historians have framed history in the past and how they go about it today. The book should be required reading for anyone who wants to know more about history and how it is written.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Historiography at its best
    This book explores the boundary between recounting the past and creatingthe past. The writing is beautiful, the ideas are well-delineated, and theexamples are compelling. The book chews over common themes inhistorigraphy, but thus author makes them accessible to the general public.Wonderfully written and unforgettable, this book will certainly give youfood for thought. And it will make a better reader of straight history. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0679736131
    Sales Rank: 216606
    Subjects:  1. 1727-1759    2. Biography    3. Biography/Autobiography    4. Boston    5. Boston (Mass.)    6. Death    7. Death and burial    8. Historiography    9. History    10. History - General History    11. Massachusetts    12. Social aspects    13. Wolfe, James,    14. History / General    15. Parkman, Francis    16. Parkman, George    17. Wolfe, James   


    $11.56

    The Presence of the Past
    by Roy Rosenzweig, David Thelen
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (15 April, 2000)
    list price: $23.00 -- our price: $23.00
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    Editorial Review

    While the historical profession and its critics have pointed to a vast ignorance among the American people about the past, historians Roy Rosenzweig and David Thelen argue that it's the commentators who have much to learn. Conducting a phone survey of 1,453 Americans from a variety of backgrounds, the authors soon discovered that their professional training had left them unprepared for how people actually thought about the past. A surprising number of Americans feel unconnected to the nation-centered version of history taught in classrooms, searching instead for an intimate encounter with the past through family histories, the collection of memorabilia, and museum excursions. But these examples of "popular historymaking" are more than just anachronistic remembrances, and Rosenzweig and Thelen recount the ways that Americans use their historical imaginations to live in the present and shape the future.

    A profound reconsideration of what counts as historical thinking, The Presence of the Past exposes some misconceptions at the heart of the so-called history wars. Historical professionals like Gary Nash, Charlotte Crabtree, and Ross Dunn who argue (inHistory on Trial) that academic standards must reflect the rich ethnic mixture of the nation miss the fact that most students are alienated from the classrooms that have made them regurgitate volumes of facts. Cultural conservatives like Lynne Cheney and William Bennett, who insist on a triumphant version of the national past, fail to recognize that most Americans do not see their lives as connected to purported heroes like George Washington. A wonderful and refreshing book, The Presence of the Past points toward a democratization of historical consciousness by tenderly exploring how ordinary people remember. --James Highfill ... Read more

    Reviews (13)

    2-0 out of 5 stars Defining Down History
    There is much to learn from Presence of the Past but notnecessarily what the authors have in mind.Rosenzweig and Thelenpurport to give us good news about the historical consciousness of the American people, finding that most Americans are, in some way, "connected to the past." They do this by defining down the definition of history to mean things like talking with relatives, keeping a diary, collecting antique motorcycles, and even attending Bible classes.History teachers become the heavies because they insist that students regurgitate historical facts about which average Americans express a profound lack of interest (although paradoxically they also say that they would like their children to have the same experience).

    It's as if those who bemoaned the mathematical illiteracy of the American public were suddenly challenged by a survey noting that virtually all Americans could read house numbers, tell the time, and make change while using a calculator.These hypothetical respondents would probably also criticize their teachers for burdening them with irrelevant information.

    Because the majority of the Americans surveyed for Presence of the Past have little sense of history outside their family or group, their knowledge of broader history is both sketchy and distorted.Rosenzweig and Thelen celebrate the fact that Americans put more trust in museums than in books for their knowledge of history, but such a faith only demonstrates naivete about museums.(In the wake of the Enola Gay fiasco at the Smithsonian and a subsequent symposium of articles in the Journal of American History, one JAH reader noted that the "true tragedy" was that "both sides believed that the people who saw the exhibit would be swayed, unquestioningly, by the 'facts' presented to them and that the visitors would not stop, even briefly, to think of possible biases in the exhibition itself, let alone about WWII-i.e. that they would think critically. Unfortunately, because of the state of education in this country, I agree with them.")

    Using such a low common denominator to define history also reveals that those with the most congruent view of the past are "evangelicals" (defined by Rosenzweig and Thelen as Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses as well as Protestant fundamentalists and evangelicals).Thelen notes that the appeal of evangelical religion is so powerful "that it seems the most likely common ground on which some respondents from different cultures can recognize each other." "What," asks Rosenzweig, "does a largely secular group like historians have to say to them?"

    The authors' greatest fear is that the "privatized and parochial past" of their informants will not support history as "a vehicle for social justice" or inspire people "to work for social change in the present." Not to worry.Ignorance, parochialism, and naivete are a fertile soil for those who wish to use "history" as a tool to promote social and political agendas. "Black Athena" and its kin are only a recent example.

    Awareness of one's own past is helpful (we often call it maturity), and extending understanding of the past to the lives of one's relatives is even better.But without an appreciation of the broader past, democracy is in danger.Much of what passes for present truth is, in the words of C. S. Lewis, "merely temporary fashion.A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village: the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age."ÿ

    3-0 out of 5 stars Their research raises more questions than answers.
    In recent years it has been popular to lambaste the American as unlettered in history; gullible and vulnerable to the whims of the popular media.Rosenzwieg and Thelen take issue with this assertion through the results oftheir survey of popular American attitudes and perceptions toward history. In deference to the positive, they crafted their survey to discover whatAmericans do know about their past, and which aspects therein possessspecial meaning to the individual.Through their findings they hoped tolocate a common ground that would engage both scholar and layman in thesearch for understanding in history.

    Rosenzweig and Thelen found thatmany Americans regard the past as a well-spring for moral guidance andpersonal identity.In contrast to the professional historian, it is lessthe specific event (e.g. World War II) than the familial tie (e.g. grandpagoing off to war) that determines relevance and interpretation for thelayman.For many Americans history is alive and ever-present: throughkeepsakes, family lore, and observations.It is subject to an unendingreinterpretation and definition, and, most importantly, it is what definesaspiration and identity.

    Rosenzweig and Thelen also found little tosuggest homogeneity among Americans in historical interpretation.In areassuch as ethnicity and religion the variance was profound.Their findingssuggested that such identifications influence meaning and interpretation,and speak of divisions within American society.This was particularly truein comparisons between the reminisces of European Americans, AfricanAmericans, and Native Americans.In some areas of history (e.g. slaveryand the westward movement), there appeared little ground for a broad andunifying consensus.

    Is there a paradigm that would unite scholar andlayman?Rosenzweig and Thelen suggest it may exist in popular history, aform of historical presentation steeped in relevance to the individual. This 'democratization' of history would spring forth from a productivedialogue between the layman and the scholar.In the view of Rosenzweig andThelen, the professional historian is wont to wallow in esoterica andnarrow specialization.While impressive, such research does not engage thelayman; instead, it perpetuates the popular perception of history as a drycompendium of dates and facts.Rather a productive dialogue could drawboth layman and scholar in a common pursuit.

    Does this mean that historyis alive and well in the United States?Unfortunately, the optimismeffused from Rosenzweig and Thelen's study provides little room forcomfort.Despite their stated intention to survey a cross section ofAmericans, the design of their survey provides evidence they fell short ofthis goal.Asian Ameicans were under-represented, as were people living inmulti-ethnic neighborhoods.Also, socio-economic status did not receivethe attention it merited; previous studies have found correlation betweensocio-economic status and knowledge in many fields, including history. Yet,Rosenzweig and Thelen have provided both scholars and laymen with food forthought as to what direction history should be taken.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Harvey
    I met ³Harvey² on the stairs leading to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.I was going up; he was going down.He had just dropped off wife and kids inside the museum, but preferred to listen to the hockey game inthe car, rather than ³have anything to do with something historical.²Isaw him two hours later.While looking for the restrooms, he had stumbledon a poorly lit room that hosted a small exhibit on toys from the 1940¹s tothe 1970¹s.He was now talking with two men his own age, ³John and Steve.² Half phrases, shouted words, hands quickly drawing circles and lines, theywere describing -- reliving I should say -- the games they used to playwhen they were kids.³Oh, that was the bestand....²³....and momwouldcall and we kept....²³But wedidn¹t have all the....²While writtenspecifically for writers, teachers, and professionals in the field ofhistory, Roy Rosenzweig¹s and David Thelen¹s work is about people like³Harvey, John, and Steve.²The Presence of the Pastis an act ofaccusation toward the historical profession as a whole for the dicothomycreated between History with the capital H, and the general public,increasingly alienated by its specialization and sterility.Takingadvantage of the results of a national survey specifically tailored totheir demands, the co-authors are convincingly able to demonstrate that ifperception of scholastic history is still filled with adjectives likeboring and useless, the average American considers a dip in the past a veryexiting and a very purpeseful activity.To be connected with one¹s roots,to research one¹s who, where, when, what, and why serves many functions: ithelps understand the present, connect with one¹s culture, and even go forthe ultimate prize, immortality.As Rosenzweig notes in his conclusion,the professional historian¹s inability to make use of the past representsthe general public¹s main complaint.Much can be said about theevidence presented by Rosenzweig and Thelen.If the two authors dedicate afull twenty-two page explanation to the why certain people were and werenot selected, a few doubts still linger on the possibility that anotherresult could have been obtained with a difficult system of selection (inparticular with the minority groups).And it is somewhat surprising thattwenty-three tables are used to describe what were for the most part,open-ended questions.Couldn¹t those pages be put to better use with thetranscripts of a few interviews?But a mild critique of the selectionand use of the evidence cannot hide the relevance of this survey at a timein which a renewed passion for history is flourishing on small and bigscreens, bookstores and travel agencies, while the soul of the disciplineis confused by cries of cultural relativism, objectivity, andpost-structuralism.The customers have spoken: they like the product, butnot the way it¹s presented.Should history corrupt its ³purity² to meetpopular demand for a simplification of its themes and a stronger emphasison subjects closer to the general public?Or was history¹s ³purity²corrupted in the first place by its separation from a narrative moreattached to people rather than abstract concepts like liberty, justice, ordemocracy?Through a skillful use of citations, Rosenzweig and Thelenhave been able to show that history (as the aseptic, distant, formal resultof research done by others) is out, while a personal quest for the past isin.Contents and even results are not nearly as important as participationor experience are.This is why the number one choice on how to connectwith the past is the family gathering where ³historiae² are told, passedon, and, sometimes, invented.Studying history in school?Sixth out ofsix choices.Scholastic history is not viewed as relevant because the oneoffered in American schools is a prepackaged product that doesn¹t answerpersonal wants.In a society dominated less by conformity and more byindividuality, a quest for one¹s past necessitates an attention toindividual needs that modern history is unable to offer.It is ironicthat two trained historians have raised the issue of scholastic history¹sinability to cope with people¹s demand (and its related problems), but nowthe ball is in their court. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0231111495
    Subjects:  1. Anthropology - Cultural    2. General    3. Historiography    4. History    5. History - General History    6. History: American    7. United States - General   


    $23.00

    The Past is a Foreign Country
    by David Lowenthal
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (14 November, 1985)
    list price: $36.99 -- our price: $36.99
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    Reviews (3)

    5-0 out of 5 stars For anyone interested in how we look upon the past
    Almost encyclopedical in his treatment of Western cultures' relations to their past, Lowenthal gives the reader a roller-coster ride, from time travel fantasies to Viking logos in Minnesota. Lowenthal is more into exploring our relation to the past than debunking myths, thus being more open to the manifold ways we use the past than in his later book "The Heritage Crusade." One problem remains: Lowenthal's idea about the foreign-ness of the past, that we today have a different way of understanding the passing of time than our medieval ancestors, could have benefitted from more elaboration. Still, this is a masterpiece.

    5-0 out of 5 stars One terrific book
    This book is a unique of study on how to understand history.I found it almost impossible to put down, and my reference point for touring historical sites and watching movies and televisons shows has been foreeveraltered.Highly recommended for its readability and fabulous bibliographyand footnotes.A must read for anyone interested in history.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent intellectual study of perception of the past
    This book is a tough read, but a very informative look into why we view history in the way we do. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0521294800
    Sales Rank: 148424
    Subjects:  1. History    2. History - General History    3. History: American    4. Philosophy    5. Reference    6. World - General    7. History / World    8. USA    9. World history   


    $36.99

    Mickey Mouse History and Other Essays on American Memory (Critical Perspectives on the Past)
    by Mike Wallace
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 May, 1996)
    list price: $25.95 -- our price: $25.95
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    Reviews (6)

    2-0 out of 5 stars Not a Mickey Mouse History, but a Donald Duck Rebuttal
    Aside from a proverbial axe that Mr. Wallace is grinding (especially in the Reagan essay), the text employs a down-to-earth approach, avoiding the typical multi-syllabic lingo that is usually associated with academia.In addition, the broad purpose of his text is applaudable:the deconstruction of the myths and ideologies of history and the return to historical research and study.

    However, I can say that while I agree with most of Mr. Wallace's viewpoints, I should also note that he has many fallacies in his case studies, particularly those with Disney.As a former Disney employee, I have to wonder how much time he truly spent researching the inner cogs of the "Mouse Machine," and who he spent time interviewing.

    As a volunteer museum curator/collections manager, I must agree with other reviewers about Mr. Wallace's critical analysis of museums."Could," "should," and "would" are great words when theorizing and idealizing about the historical preservation process, but until one actually experiences the real-world struggles of museum revitalization and artifact preservation, I tend not to pay any heed to the noisy cymbals of criticism.

    Finally, as a graduate student of Popular Culture, and from an academic viewpoint, the lack of detailed citations and direct references in this book raises my concern about the integrity of the research that was done.The bibliography, while impressive in its depth, is not annotated enough to make up for the missing footnotes of works cited.

    4-0 out of 5 stars accesible, critical and still with a sense of humor
    for someone interested in museum, spaces of exhibition and the like you will find section one and two of this book quite interesting. the first deals with different sorts of museums placing a critical point of view from communitary museums to opend air museums, to technology museums. the second part is great dealing with the forms of exhibition at disney. dystory, that special kind of reality that it is at once purified and sanitized and tha is quite part of the essence of thematized environments. parts three and four deal, respectively, with the restoraton movement in america and the politics of culture during regan's era, specially with the enola gay case.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Accessible and Thoughtful
    Mike Wallace uses the kind of academic writing that all scholars should aspire to achieve--lively, free of jargon, and entertaining. His subject, as suggested by the book's title, is history and the debates that surround different depictions of history. Wallace observes, astutely, that the struggles over how to portray history reveals much about ourselves, our beliefs, and our agendas. Wallace points out that history is never neutral, a point that is well worth reinforcing.

    My particular interest is Disney Studies, and Wallace has a section (actually two essays) devoted to Disney and it use of history. The first essay concentrates on Disney's use of history in its theme parks, particularly in places such as the Hall of Presidents and EPCOT. While Wallace does not shy from criticizing Disney's portrayal of history (in fact, one of Wallace's strengths is he does not shy from representing his own viewpoint clearly), he also does not simply dismiss the potential in integrating history, entertainment, and the kind of technological wizardy that Disney is known for. He makes a serious case for a reconsideration of Disney and its techniques, all without constantly hitting his reader over the head with things. In his second essay, Wallace concentrates on the failed Disney's America project, providing background information and a critique of Disney with a call to re-examine Disney's use of history as emblematic of other movements and struggles over American history. He also makes it clear that he believes simply dismissing Disney is not an effective strategy for considering how portrayals of history could engage the public. The strength here is that Wallace is not afraid to criticize both Disney and kneejerk criticisms of Disney, or to envision the melding of history and entertainment. Nor does he abandon the quest for critical presentations of history that open history to even further investigation. While this is no easy task, Wallace does succeed.

    If there is one thing I would suggest, perhaps the element I feel is missing, is a better development of these strategies for the presentation of history that Wallace supports. Although that could indeed be a book in itself, it would have been nice to see more of Wallace dwell more on his own engagement with, even answers to, the questions he has raised in this book. ... Read more

    Isbn: 1566394457
    Sales Rank: 325169
    Subjects:  1. Americana    2. Historic preservation    3. Historic sites    4. Historical museums    5. Historiography    6. History - General History    7. History: American    8. Interpretive programs    9. Popular Culture - General    10. Social Science    11. United States   


    $25.95

    What Is History?
    by EDWARD HALLET CARR
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (12 October, 1967)
    list price: $11.35 -- our price: $11.35
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    Reviews (11)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fundamental considerations!
    Edward Hallet Carr makes a meticulous analysis and untired exploration around the meaning of the historian and his real role as interpreter . He must consider the story as a musician playing the score becoming in a kind of vanished bridge linking the history and the reader . The subjectivity is very hazardous , but the historian can not just be isolated from the emotion . This delicate balance between the reason and the passion is highlighted with interesting points of view of brilliant authors in this theme .
    Absorbing and fundamental reading.

    4-0 out of 5 stars As good as it will get
    For a book on historiography, it's not gonna get any better.It really makes a big difference on how you see other historical writings and such.I don't know if this will help, but it's part of a report I did on the book:
    The study of history offers new interpretations to the historian and the scholar, because it helps the historian understand his job and how to overcome problems, and it teaches the scholar to read history with a greater understanding.Just by reading Edward Carr's book, the student learns that when reading a history book, he shouldn't be concerned with just the facts in the book, but also the author and the time period in which the book was written.To fully grasp the work of the historian, he must first understand the circumstances under which the work was written.It is also beneficial to the historian himself, as Carr says, "the historian who is most conscious of his own situation is also more capable of transcending it, and more capable of appreciating the essential nature of the differences between his own society and outlook and those of other periods and other countries, than the historian who loudly protests that he is an individual and not a social phenomenon."

    Carr does not delve into ways to approach history, except for simply and sporadically.He seems to feel that history should always be studied in the same way.The only "new method" he mentioned was time itself, changing peoples perspectives and expectations of history.New historians can base their studies off of the evidence and materials of the old, and in this way, history can progress.Carr says that over time, "Nothing...occurred to alter the inductive view of historical method...first collect your facts, then interpret them."

    I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the book.While I wouldn't read it again, I would recommend it to any history student, because it changes the perspective on history.The book started out very strong- everything pointed to the one looming question, what is history?, but as the book progressed, Carr seemed to lose track of the point, and focus more on whether history is a science or not, rather than defining the word.The book was easy to read, and was full of examples- sometimes humorous- that made Carr's ideas understandable.Carr constantly quoted other historians, or used simple sayings, like "which came first, the chicken or the egg?"At first Carr was convincing, but as he lost track, I lost interest, and his later points did not convince me at all.Even so, the book was readable, informative, and recommendable.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Postmodernism getting you down?
    Carr's work has endurance.For the more simply oriented historians, who just want to tell their story and are not interested in political agendas, you will come away from this book gratified and inspired.Carr gives meaning to the study of history, and he does it in an entertaining way.There is little leftist trapping -- although I was initally put off by the fact that Karl Marx has more entries in the index than "truth."I gave him a chance, and I was not disappointed.

    Perhaps the greatest test is that of the three books I had to buy to study historiography, I kept this one and sold the other two. ... Read more

    Isbn: 039470391X
    Sales Rank: 207519
    Subjects:  1. Historiography    2. History    3. History - General History    4. Philosophy    5. History / General   


    $11.35

    Whose History?: The Struggle for National Standards in American Classrooms
    by Linda Symcox
    Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 April, 2002)
    list price: $21.95 -- our price: $21.95
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    Reviews (1)

    2-0 out of 5 stars Sloppy argument colors informative post-mortem
    It is a truism that history is written by the victors. However, in Whose History? The Struggle for National Standards in American Classrooms, Linda Symcox gives us history written by the losers. As a principal participant in the National Standards for History project, Symcox is among the academics and educational professionals who lost the battle to define a consensus American history. Her book provides a post-mortem on how conservative activists engineered a total rejection of the Standards.Understandably biter about the hatchet job done on the product she and others worked hard to produce, Symcox seeks to understand the genesis of the conservative backlash and place the battle she lost in the context of the larger, longer culture wars waged over social studies curriculum. Though she attempts to take the tone of an academic researching a series of events, her bias often reveals her to be still engaged in the argument, not merely studying it.
    Symcox has a firm command of the intellectual development of history as an academic discipline. With a brisk narrative, she documents the paradigm shift from the great man/great event theory of history (embodied by the presidential synthesis) to the new social history (marked by specialties such as African-American history and women's history). While I was familiar with the broad outline of this development, it was fascinating to learn how knowledge theory normally applied to hard science had this profound effect on the social science.Her work has filled-in the detail and fleshed out the backstory of the events with which I was moderately familiar.
    Symcox lays out the coordinated effor that would doom the National History Standards she worked on. But her indignation over the tactics of the standard's opponents seems almost naïve. She frequently points out that she has uncovered how the critics were working in cahoots with one another. In one instance she states, "By examining this network of relationships, one can see this group coalescing around a common cause." In another she writes, of Lynne Chenney's Wall Street Journal column, "This opinion piece was evidently part of an orchestrated campaign," as if this were a revelation.
    Lines such as these pepper the text and left me with the impression that Symcox thinks connecting the dots among the players constitutes a major contribution to understanding the situation. Her tone suggests that the damning nature of this fact is self-evident, reminding me of the tone when Hillary Clinton cited a "vast-right wing conspiracy" against her husband. But political coordination of a campaign for or against something is as old as politics itself and is as pervasive on the left as on the right. Her outlook seems to be that it's one thing that Lynne Cheney, E.D. Hirsch, William Bennett and Slade Gorton opposed the standards; but it's quite another thing that they talked to each other about their common cause. The implication is that this was downright sinister.
    Unsophisticated political analysis such as this is the fatal flaw of Whose History?. This double standard is minor, however, compared to the double standard Smycox applies to those who would set curriculum. Symcox chastises the Reagan administration for vacating the public space of education. The undesirable result is that Educational Testing Service and textbook companies end up setting curriculum. We are told this is bad not because it results in the wrong curriculum or in weak curriculum, but because it is undemocratic.
    What is notable here is that these private corporations, whose interest is to preserve the existing social order, are not necessarily accountable to the public. They operate outside the system of checks and balances that supposedly forms the basis of our government, and they respond solely to market forces. If we leave policy making to these institutions and the play of market forces, it raises serious questions about how democratic that policy can be.
    Similar criticism is directed at the intellectuals driving Reagan-era policy.Despite their enormous influence, "few could be held accountable to the electorate." The result was that, "these unelected pundits dictated national educational policy." At no point is any evidence presented that the curriculum arrived at by unelected pundits and market forces preserving the social order is a poor curriculum or harmful to the nation's students.
    Having posited that unelected, unaccountable people making curriculum policy is a bad idea, Symcox later makes this statement, "... research scholars are undoubtedly the best qualified to determine the content of the K-12 curriculum..."Unless Symcox is aware of a cadre of elected, publicly-accountable research scholars, she has a serious double standard on her hands. I am left with the impression that Symcox is able to justify the proposition that the people she doesn't want making policy need to be elected to do so, but the people she does want making policy needn't be.
    After all this suspicion of the unelected, and those who don't face the electorate, Symcox's greatest disappointment is in the U.S. Senate, the one prominent organization in the book that does face the voters. In assessing the impact of the 99-1 censure of the Standards, Symcox notes disapprovingly that the Senate, "gave its imprimatur to a single official version of American and world history." Symcox's tone is clear. Though she has discovered why this happened and how it happened, she disagrees with the Senate and still resents its action. She leave us to guess how she squares this distaste for the decision of 99 elected officials (who are certainly accountable to the voters) with her alarm for the fact that ETS, textbook companies and conservative pundits are unelected.
    Democracy may be a great way to make curriculum, but if so Symcox fails to show how. Conversely, there may be a compelling argument that democracy is a lousy way to make curriculum. But Symcox certainly doesn't make it. There is probably a good argument that research academics are the best qualified to set curriculum standards. But Symcox doesn't make that argument. She merely states it without support. That's too bad, it's an argument I'd like to hear. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0807742317
    Sales Rank: 398063
    Subjects:  1. Administration - General    2. Curriculum planning    3. Education    4. Education / Teaching    5. Educational Policy & Reform    6. History    7. Philosophy & Social Aspects    8. Standards    9. Study and teaching    10. Teaching Methods & Materials - Social Science    11. United States   


    $21.95

    The Idea of History
    by R.G. Collingwood, W. J. Van Der Dussen, Jan Van Der Dussen
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 October, 1994)
    list price: $21.50 -- our price: $21.50
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    Reviews (7)

    5-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Edition of Collingwood's Art.
    This is a very fine edition of Collingwood's magnum opus The Idea of History.It also includes two earlier papers on the philosophy of history, etc.Any student or scholar who studies the discipline of history will need this book, and should read it closely.Van Der Dussen's introductory essay is also very good.Highly recommended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars R. G. Collingwood'sMost Famous Book
    Highly Recommended.
    This book is one of the best books ever written on the Nature and Aims of History.This along with his "Principles of History" should give most readers all they need to know about the how and why of history.
    The book is extremely easy to read; harder to understand.Some criticisms of the book are not up to the mark, as for example complaints that Collingwood used Greek and Latin phrases in the book, and not everyone understands them.Most of the Greek and Latin are very easy to understand, any good comprehensive foreign phrase dictionary will readily yield them.In fact everyone at the Oxford of Collingwood's day, and nearly everyone who considered themselves a philosopher at that time, could read Latin, and most of them Greek.Don't complain because Kant wrote in German (and Latin and Greek), and that Collingwood writes British English (and Latin and Greek).His style is beautiful, the thoughts expressed profound.
    One does not get Collingwood's complete philosophy in this book, and indeed, parts of it cannot be understood without reading his other works.I think particularly of his famous doctrine of"re-enactment" of past thought, which is best understood in the light of the chapters on language presented in his "Principles of Art" (Oxford, 1938).Much invalid criticism has been written by those who have assumed this meant some kind of mental telepathy or intuition.
    This book, and everything Collingwood has written, will amply repay the thinking reader.He may, in fact, soon find himself armed with new philosophical ideas with which to think about the world.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A magnificent book if you're motivated enough
    R. G. Collingwood's The Idea of History would be more correctly classified as a work of philosophy than a work of history, as the primary goal of the work is to present Collingwood's philosophical conception of the nature of history. In terms of methodology, Collingwood's book can be divided into two main sections.
    Parts I-IV are more historical as Collingwood traces the development of the practice of history. It begins with its Greco-Roman roots, examines the influence of Christianity, and moves on toward the development of modern scientific history, and finally finishes by examining the concept of history up to the then-present day. Throughout this first portion Collingwood does not directly present his philosophy, leaving it to the reader to infer it from his critiques of other historians. Part V is where Collingwood finally lays out his entire philosophy of history, fully elaborating what he only partially revealed in parts I-IV. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0192853066
    Sales Rank: 25667
    Subjects:  1. General    2. Historiography    3. History    4. History - General History    5. History: World    6. Philosophy    7. World - General   


    $21.50

    History and Memory
    by Jacques Le Goff
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (15 November, 1996)
    list price: $23.00 -- our price: $23.00
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    Reviews (2)

    5-0 out of 5 stars history
    This review is necesary for understand the History Teory, it's more importand for thaformation of de Historian

    5-0 out of 5 stars history
    This review is necesary for understand the History Teory, it's more importand for thaformation of de Historian ... Read more

    Isbn: 023107591X
    Sales Rank: 255196
    Subjects:  1. Europe - General    2. Historiography    3. History - General History    4. History: World   


    $23.00

    Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts: Charting the Future of Teaching the Past (Critical Perspectives on the Past)
    by Sam Wineburg
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (29 April, 2001)
    list price: $23.95 -- our price: $23.95
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    Reviews (3)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Calling all educators: A MUST HAVE!
    OK, the fact that he is "the" professor who changed the course of my life notwithstanding: This is a terrific book, one that opens doors for teachers who want to think about "what" they do, "how" they do it, "why" they use the materials that they do, and, ultimately, what critical pathways they have opened in their students at the end of the day.

    Thought provoking, stirring without being preachy, at times quite funny -- Wineburg quickly shows why he one of the most important voices in Ed Psych -- in Education -- in History -- today.

    Most of the folks in the History department at my school now own it.Don't think, just buy.You'll have lots of time to think later.



    Go.Click.It's not too late.



    It's still not too late.Stop reading. Quickly now...click!

    5-0 out of 5 stars An Interview with Sam Wineburg about "Historical Thinking"

    Taped to the door of Sam Wineburg's office at the University of Washington's College of Education are paired photos of dogs and their comically similar owners. Professor Wineburg greeted me with a pop quiz: "Which twins look most alike?"

    Behind this playful question is an educational psychologist's interest in how people think, especially about history. Wineburg's "Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts" (Temple U. Press, 255 pages, [price]) shows that historical thought is not a natural process: it "goes against the grain of how we ordinarily think, one of the reasons why it is much easier to learn names, dates, and stories than it is to [understand] the past."

    Wineburg told me his interest in this subject first awoke when he took a history class he couldn't ace with his good memory. He learned that histories aren't objective summaries of the facts but interpretations and arguments made out of information that's always incomplete. "But how did historians do that?" Wineburg asked. "Their books seemed like products of naturally systematic thought--which wasn't how my mind worked, but maybe I was just dumb!"

    Wineburg's research into history and the mind has won many honors during his 12 years at the University of Washington. Through having students and professors think aloud while reading documents, he found that only novices just read something and decide what it means. "A historian's thought process is full of hunches and reverses, constant self-questionings and I-don't-knows," Wineburg explained.

    Standardized history tests inhibit this kind of thinking, besides guaranteeing that students will seem vastly ignorant. "Periodically, starting with the first national survey in 1917, Americans have concluded from factual tests that kids don't know history. The conclusion isn't logical." Wineburg smiled wryly. "Kids have just never remembered the facts that adults sitting around a table making up a test say they should remember."

    He pulled a U.S. history text from a shelf. "Why not teach how to question the facts? Here's Rosa Parks: 'Tired after a long day's work, she sat down in the front section reserved for whites.' Actually, Parks sat in the middle of the bus, available to anyone unless the front was full. Other accounts have her saying she wasn't especially tired and wasn't sure why she kept her seat when challenged. Did Parks intend an act of civil disobedience? Why do these historians disagree?"

    Comparing documents, Wineburg added, "is detective work that kids are usually deprived of. It shows them that no single authority has the whole story, and it raises real questions of meaning." He paused, considering. "Every topic doesn't need endless debate. Students stay engaged once they realize history's not a fixed story they must swallow whole but a way of thinking they can apply to life."

    Americans need this way of thinking, Wineburg told me. "We're deluged by conflicting, fragmented information that tries to steer us in particular directions. We need to raise citizens who ask themselves, 'Is this true? Who's saying so? What's the nature of the evidence?' Taught this way, history is a training ground for democracy."

    Is such training too hard for schoolchildren? "We underestimate kids' abilities to think. Or we believe their self-esteem depends on having tasks they easily do. But we feel good about ourselves by doing things we thought we couldn't do, with capable people around to pick us up after a tumble and show us our reach can exceed our grasp."

    "Historical Thinking" is an academic book, but not daunting or dry, and full of stories any reader can enjoy. Wineburg describes Primo Levi's moving encounter with the student who swore that if sent to Auschwitz he could have escaped. There's a chapter on drawings that schoolchildren made of their mental pictures of Pilgrims, Settlers, and Hippies for one of Wineburg's studies--readers can bypass the statistical tables and walk right into these young imaginations. The high-school history class discussion that veers off the rails is as gripping as well-crafted fiction.

    Wineburg's conversation with me was no merely academic exercise either. "History gives us a kind of humility," he mused at one point. "I can read something written in 1860 but not know what it meant to live in 1860. I never lived in a world where you could wake up in the morning and go to an auction and buy people. Studying history, we think our way into what living in that world was like. It's the only form of time travel that exists."

    Small wonder that Wineburg was an early winner of the University of Washington's Distinguished Teaching Award.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Historical Thinking: Training Ground for Democracy
    [Note: This review appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on June 1, 2001. Go to online copy at the newspaper's website ..., or see the text below:

    Taped to the door of Sam Wineburg's office at the University of Washington's College of Education are paired photos of dogs and their comically similar owners. Professor Wineburg greeted me with a pop quiz: "Which twins look most alike?"

    Behind this playful question is an educational psychologist's interest in how people think, especially about history. Wineburg's "Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts" (Temple U. Press, 255 pages, ...) shows that historical thought is not a natural process: it "goes against the grain of how we ordinarily think, one of the reasons why it is much easier to learn names, dates, and stories than it is to [understand] the past."

    Wineburg told me his interest in this subject first awoke when he took a history class he couldn't ace with his good memory. He learned that histories aren't objective summaries of the facts but interpretations and arguments made out of information that's always incomplete. "But how did historians do that?" Wineburg asked. "Their books seemed like products of naturally systematic thought--which wasn't how my mind worked, but maybe I was just dumb!"

    Wineburg's research into history and the mind has won many honors during his 12 years at the University of Washington. Through having students and professors think aloud while reading documents, he found that only novices just read something and decide what it means. "A historian's thought process is full of hunches and reverses, constant self-questionings and I-don't-knows," Wineburg explained.

    Standardized history tests inhibit this kind of thinking, besides guaranteeing that students will seem vastly ignorant. "Periodically, starting with the first national survey in 1917, Americans have concluded from factual tests that kids don't know history. The conclusion isn't logical." Wineburg smiled wryly. "Kids have just never remembered the facts that adults sitting around a table making up a test say they should remember."

    He pulled a U.S. history text from a shelf. "Why not teach how to question the facts? Here's Rosa Parks: 'Tired after a long day's work, she sat down in the front section reserved for whites.' Actually, Parks sat in the middle of the bus, available to anyone unless the front was full. Other accounts have her saying she wasn't especially tired and wasn't sure why she kept her seat when challenged. Did Parks intend an act of civil disobedience? Why do these historians disagree?"

    Comparing documents, Wineburg added, "is detective work that kids are usually deprived of. It shows them that no single authority has the whole story, and it raises real questions of meaning." He paused, considering. "Every topic doesn't need endless debate. Students stay engaged once they realize history's not a fixed story they must swallow whole but a way of thinking they can apply to life."

    Americans need this way of thinking, Wineburg told me. "We're deluged by conflicting, fragmented information that tries to steer us in particular directions. We need to raise citizens who ask themselves, 'Is this true? Who's saying so? What's the nature of the evidence?' Taught this way, history is a training ground for democracy."

    Is such training too hard for schoolchildren? "We underestimate kids' abilities to think. Or we believe their self-esteem depends on having tasks they easily do. But we feel good about ourselves by doing things we thought we couldn't do, with capable people around to pick us up after a tumble and show us our reach can exceed our grasp."

    "Historical Thinking" is an academic book, but not daunting or dry, and full of stories any reader can enjoy. Wineburg describes Primo Levi's moving encounter with the student who swore that if sent to Auschwitz he could have escaped. There's a chapter on drawings that schoolchildren made of their mental pictures of Pilgrims, Settlers, and Hippies for one of Wineburg's studies--readers can bypass the statistical tables and walk right into these young imaginations. The high-school history class discussion that veers off the rails is as gripping as well-crafted fiction.

    Wineburg's conversation with me was no merely academic exercise either. "History gives us a kind of humility," he mused at one point. "I can read something written in 1860 but not know what it meant to live in 1860. I never lived in a world where you could wake up in the morning and go to an auction and buy people. Studying history, we think our way into what living in that world was like. It's the only form of time travel that exists."

    Small wonder that Wineburg was an early winner of the University of Washington's Distinguished Teaching Award. ... Read more

    Isbn: 1566398568
    Sales Rank: 148771
    Subjects:  1. Culture conflict    2. Curricula    3. Education / Teaching    4. Historiography    5. History    6. History: World    7. Philosophy    8. Study & Teaching    9. Study and teaching    10. Teaching Methods & Materials - Social Science    11. United States   


    $23.95

    From Reliable Sources: An Introduction to Historical Methods
    by Martha Howell, Walter Prevenier
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 April, 2001)
    list price: $15.95 -- our price: $15.95
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    Reviews (1)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Always check out your source of information
    History writing is usually considered to have begun with the Greek Herodotus in the 4th century BC with his efforts to distinguish between myth and verifiable stories and that has been the basic problem of writing history ever since. In his history of the Gallic Wars Julius Caesar celebrated the military power of the Romans, along with his own formidable talents as a military leader. Livy fed Roman chauvinism with a history that celebrated eight proud centuries of the Roman past. Thucydides, Polybius, Sallust, Plutarch and Suetonius each brought their own approach or treatment of characters. Augustine portrayed history as an enactment of God's plan. Others wrote accounts to convince readers of the justice of a cause while Guibert of Nogent painted Mohammed in the worst possible light, not caring if the tales were true but only if they helped his case. Matthias Flacius Illyricus's chief purpose was to demonstrate that the Roman Church's claim to be the direct heir of first-century Christianity had no historical basis. Medieval historiography was designed to serve Christianity and in the Middle Ages historians entered the service of lords, monarchs and the state where their primary task was to create glorious pasts, fabricate evidence or select information to give legitimacy to the elite to whom it was offered.

    Leopold von Ranke is credited with the founding of the scientific method of history writing but even so he betrays an unclerical ideology and a commitment to the national state so historians must always consider the conditions under which a source was produced, the intentions that motivated it and the reliability of that source. They must also consider the historical context in which it was produced - the events that preceded it, and those that followed, for the significance of any event recorded depends as much on what comes after as it does on what comes before. Had the Boston Tea Party of 1773 not been followed by the American Revolution, it would have had considerably less significance than historians have since given it, and the very same newspaper report of the uprising, in the very same archive, would have had a very different status from the one it actually acquired. Thus, historians are never in a position - and should never imagine themselves being in a position - to read a source without attention to both the historical and the historiographical contexts that give it meaning.

    Recording history today has become more complicated because we have such a wealth of information such as television recordings, audiotapes, and videos from the man in the street and not just the written word. This book was written as a guide on how to handle this overload of information and to provide ethical ground rules so that we have the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

    But the deeper underlying significance of this book is something that all of us must reflect on because we receive viewpoints from different sides of a conflict or different political views and we must understand that any report may also have a hidden agenda or bias. We may not have received the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If we then go back in history, our beliefs may be founded on the "truths" handed down to us by the victorious faction and may not truly reflect the real truth. As the authors point out: "It is thus one of the primary responsibilities of the historian to distinguish carefully for readers between information that comes literally out of the source itself (in footnotes or by some other means) and that which is a personal interpretation of the material. For the literal content of a citation - what is transcribed from the source itself - historians have no ethical responsibility; for the meaning they impart to that material, of course, they are entirely responsible." ... Read more

    Isbn: 0801485606
    Sales Rank: 10021
    Subjects:  1. Historiography    2. History    3. History - General History    4. Methodology    5. Philosophy    6. Research   


    $15.95

    POSSESSED BY THE PAST : The Heritage Crusade and the Spoils of History
    by David Lowenthal
    Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (10 September, 1996)
    list price: $25.00
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    Editorial Review

    The more things change, the more we become nostalgic about the way they once were. Perhaps because we dread the present we are tempted to seek sanctuary in our "heritage" -- a broad term that can include everything from the Pyramids at Giza to old Elvis records -- says David Lowenthal (author of The Past is a Foreign Country). At its best, the preservation of our heritage allows us to form communities and maintain vital traditions. At its worst, it abuses real history for chauvinistic gain. ... Read more

    Reviews (1)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, but disagreeable and contradictory
    Did apartments in ancient Rome have doors? Did medieval towns stink? Did 17th century clothes itch? Unfortunately we don't know the answer to any of these curious questions, David Lowenthal points out in his book Possessed by the Past, because no one at the time felt such commonplaces worth recording (114). Heritage, however, has become all too commonplace, at the expense of history, Lowenthal chides in his follow-up volume to the sometimes praised, often controversial The Past is a Foreign Country.

    Many of Lowenthal's arguments are intriguing. He explains that heritage now pervades modern society, especially in the West. He contends that heritage to many is escapist, permitting a person to hold on to something more stable in an uncertain world and often sentiments towards that stability override substantial concerns. Technophobia nurtures heritage and its growth reflects fears of a menacing future (10-11). Possessed by the Past shows that heritage, like history, faces continuous shifting attitudes and reinterpretations. Commemoration has transferred from personal to collective, elite to popular subjects (63). For instance, statues worldwide pay homage to the anonymous fallen, such as the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, rather than generals and admirals. Formerly taboo to come from a commoner background, these days such lineage has morphed to the chic (16).

    While discussing the upsurge of heritage nowadays, Lowenthal at times contradicts himself. The first chapter describes a current "heritage glut," saying that archivists, specifically, keep everything, which causes chaos by making "augmented heritage" less accessible and "suffocatingly unmanageable" (12). Later in the book he seems to advocate saving everything and encourages an emotional attachment to the items saved to make them more meaningful for heirs, saying, "self-regard supplants intergenerational generosity (52).

    In an underlying disagreeable tone, Lowenthal asserts that heritage is the antithesis of history, but unfortunately it takes him until Chapter five to concretely define heritage, though the book focuses on the word from its first page. At that point, he muses that heritage is "a declaration of faith in that past" (121).Heritage to him "uses historical traces and tells historical tales," but "exaggerates and omits, candidly invents and frankly forgets, and thrives on ignorance and error" (121). Succinctly, what counts in heritage "is not checkable fact but credulous allegiance," while history's chief hallmark is testable truth (120-121). His arguments would be more easily understood and interpreted had he made the reader know how he defined heritage from the very beginning.

    Group solidarity is innate to forming and fostering heritage; Lowenthal ruminates in his conclusion (248). Heritage in his eyes builds collective pride and purpose (249). However, in the first chapter of the volume he expressly states that heritage is self-defeating, that loving things too much destroys them (27). So, in essence, heritage brings people together to destroy what they love. In the vernacular of many a student in today's age, Lowenthal concludes through the pages of Possessed by the Past: "Heritage bites, but dude, at least it brings people together once in a while."
    ... Read more

    Isbn: 0684827980
    Subjects:  1. Historiography    2. History    3. History - General History    4. History: American    5. Philosophy    6. Philosophy Of History    7. History / General   


    History on Trial : Culture Wars and the Teaching of the Past
    by GARY NASH, CHARLOTTE CRABTREE, ROSS DUNN
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (18 April, 2000)
    list price: $15.00 -- our price: $10.20
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    Editorial Review

    The authors of History On Trial never would have imagined thatthey'd get caught up in a highly partisan national controversy. In 1992 they were enlistedby the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to draw up standards for theteaching of history in America's schools. And in 1994, before their work was evenpublished, it came under blistering attack from the political right. In History onTrial the professors argue that their work was hideously distorted and turned into ashockingly nasty political issue by agitators such as Rush Limbaugh and Lynne Cheney(who had been director of the NEH when the project to create curriculum guidelines wasbegun). In presenting their story, Gary B. Nash, Charlotte Crabtree, and Ross E. Dunnmay go into too much detail for a general reader, but that is perhaps a necessarybyproduct of fully presenting their case. ... Read more

    Reviews (6)

    4-0 out of 5 stars The Historical Context of the Recent History Debates
    Gary B. Nash, Charlotte Crabtree, and Ross E. Dunn have written a fascinating book that looks at the problems which occur when politics and the teaching history clash, as they inevitably will.The specific event described is the fight over the National History Standards which were established to give states and local school boards voluntary guidelines.The idea blew up when Lynne Cheney wrote an op-ed piece damning the standards.All three authors were involved in the project and bring their personal views and insights to the book in a helpful way.

    The most interesting aspect of the book is both the historical and international aspects applied to the history wars. It allows the reader to put this recent battle into a more helpful historical perspective as many examples from the past are presented.The examples from the other countries are also useful in giving a global approach to the issues.This is how it should be for a book that covers the battles over what should be taught to children concerning U.S. and world history.A good book that shows the problems that begin when politicians get involved in the teaching of history.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A classroom teacher analyzes the ongoing history war.
    The dedication reads simply, "This book is dedicated to the nation's history teachers". Being a member of such an oft-maligned group, this reviewer could not fail to read every word of History on Trial withcritical interest. Nash and company give a fascinating overview of thedebates that have raged regarding the teaching of America's history andcontinue to torment our national conscience today.As a history of historyalone the book would be worthwhile.The primary controversy exploredinvolves the uproar that arose over publication of the national historystandards.These had been developed by the National Center for History inthe Schools, established and funded by the NEH, headed by Lynne Cheney from1986-1992.While some of the writing does seem a defense of theembattled authors being assaulted by right-wing conservatives, both criticsand defenders of the NCHS are quoted liberally.In fact, it is noted thatthere were few defenders in the early days of the attacks.The reader isallowed to make up his/her own mind. The initiative to develop standardscame at a time when many were charging that our nation's schools werefailing.George Bush had developed the Goals 2000 plan and educationcommittees, governors, state legislatures, and local education boards beganto seek solutions.The problems were not with the idea of settingstandards, but with a perceived emphasis on social history and historicalinterpretation skills at the expense of rote memorization of traditionalnames, dates, and events. The US history standards were the most viciouslyattacked.Critics did not want teachers to discuss failures or faults withthe system.They preferred glorification of national heroes (adult, whitemales) and national institutions.In World History, critics objectedto what they considered excessive inclusion of contributions from Asian,African and Latin American nations to the detriment of the traditionalWestern Civilization emphasis.Surprisingly, the standards received littlecriticism at the elementary and middle school level.Critics includedRush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed, Lynne Cheney (once an ardentsupporter) and Lamar Alexander.The attacks were leveled largely not atthe standards themselves, but at sample lesson plans that accompanied them.Many critics did not seem to have read the standards.Having been aparticipant in the implementation of these controversial standards in asecondary public school US History classroom, using materials that had beendeveloped by the NCHS, this reviewer can assert that the war is ongoing.However, the very conflict-laden nature of the teaching of history is oneof the characteristics that keeps it so vital and interesting.For hope,all readers should look forward to the final chapter, "Lessons fromthe History Wars".This should be required reading for all potentialhistory teachers now in college classrooms.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Marvelous
    This is the kind of book I'd like to have written - the kind of book that would really clarify a lot of public debate, not to mention academic work done in the discipline of history, if it were widely read.It does threethings at once: meticulously defend the proposed U.S. National HistoryStandards against their often savage right-wing opponents; make the casethat history teaching is an important forum for the working out of culturalanxieties; and provide a chronicle of debates over historical meanings andteachings since the founding of the Republic, and earlier.A reallywell-written and important work, both for history students and teachers andfor the interested public (of which, readers will realize, we are all apart). ... Read more

    Isbn: 0679767509
    Subjects:  1. Curricula    2. Education    3. Education / Teaching    4. Multicultural Education    5. Philosophy & Social Aspects    6. Study & Teaching    7. Education / Philosophy & Social Aspects   


    $10.20

    History Wars : The Enola Gay and Other Battles for the American Past
    by Edward T. Linethal, Tom Engelhardt
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (15 August, 1996)
    list price: $17.00 -- our price: $11.56
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Reviews (3)

    5-0 out of 5 stars History is less about the past but more about the present.
    History Wars:The Enola gay and other Battles for the American Past is an extremely thought provoking book.Contained herein are eight essays that explore various issues concerning the fiasco that surrounded the attempt by the Smithsonian to reflect on the dropping of the bomb. History Wars brings up concerns not just about how World War II ended but more importantly how we as liberal and democratic societies confront issues with political implications.

    Here are the facts of the matter: The National Air and Space Museum (NASM), in the early nineties, decided to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the conclusion of World War II by working the exhibit around the Enola Gay, the now infamous B-29 used to drop the bomb on Hiroshima. The NASM (which is really part of the Smithsonian Institutions) suddenly finds itself in the middle of a firestorm of controversy. Reading the essays in History Wars one gets the impression that the real battle was one fought by historians and concerned citizens who feared that nothing less than the American past was at stake.With an exhibit title like: The Crossroads:The end of World War II, the Atomic Bomb, and the Origins of the Cold War, the exhibit was ripe for controversy.Asking some rather pointed questions about the bomb and whether or not it really did save lives and if it was the only solution to ending the war (as in Did the Truman Administration have any other options, etc.?) is starting to come a little bit too close to home. One really needs to ask, was the exhibit a commemoration or a celebration? A commemoration is really something or somewhat reflective and includes others.Conversely, a celebration is a process of self-aggrandizement, which really means "I."

    Air Force Association (AFA) together with the House of Representatives effectively called for a suspension of what was seen as 'revisionism." No doubt that World War II was "the greatest military victory in U.S. history" (2-3).However, what is key to point out is that information comes to light after years of being in the dark and it is our responsibility as good citizens to bring the truth to the surface. In effect, we are all "revisionists."Linenthal writes: "For Representative Sam Johnson, a Republican from Texas and air force veteran who was appointed to the Smithsonian board of Regents by new Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, the outpouring of anger at the Smithsonian indicated that "people" were taking history from elites (as code word for the Intelligentsia - addition mine)."We've got to get patriotism back into the Smithsonian," he declared. "We want the Smithsonian to reflect real America and not something that a historian dreamed up"" (59).It needs to be made clear that being self reflective and holding the U.S. accountable for actions in the war does not detract from the bravery of the soldiers that fought the war.However, in an effort to prevent wars in the future, to seek different alternatives, we need to be self-reflective of the past - which is what I think Linenthal and Engelhardt are trying to do in this book.We really need to be reflective of the narratives that inform our actions, our nationalism.In History Wars, Linenthal, et al. do nothing short of re-examining our master narratives.

    In History Wars we read that criticism was direct towards the NASM focused on them making the exhibit too sympathetic to the Japanese victims of the bomb.Doing so problematizes the narrative that World War II was a "good war."The exhibit as well as the script that went along with it was making the U.S. look like the aggressors and Japan and the Japanese the victims.The War, as 'common-sense' understanding has it, point to America entering the war to protect itself against Japanese aggression. In an interchange of narratives, both governments (mind you all Nationalistic governments do this) posture themselves as victim and the "Other" as villain.Historians, quite fittingly argue, that what they observed was a successful movement by powerful sections of American society to stifle problematizing of "cherished national narratives" (5).As Michael Kammen, president of the Organization of American Historians and member of the Smithsonian Council posits: "...Historians become controversial when they do not perpetuate myths, when they do not transmit the received and conventional wisdom, when they challenge the comforting presence of a stabilized past" (60).The reality of what went on in the air and on the ground is the same - no argument there. Moreover, as good or bad as any war can be the truth on the ground is revealed in pictures and the archive that has spawned around Hiroshima and Nagasaki.The argument about perception is proof positive that "history" is less about the past but more about the present and the future.In the end, all eight writers saw the "mini" version of the exhibit was lost opportunity to be self-reflective of a passing of one age and the dawning of another.

    Miguel Llora

    1-0 out of 5 stars An excellent example of Politically Correct gibberish.
    This book is an excellent example of Politically Correct elitist nonsense. From the PC arrogance such as not just displaying the Enola Gay because the "public did not have an adequate understanding with which to view it" to the ludicrous "connection" of American "homophobia" due the word "Gay" in Enola Gay (!!) to the tie-in with "Rambo" movies and our Vietnam experinces, this book trots out every morally bankrupt Leftist cliche that ever existed, and then some. However, it is an EXCELLENT book as typical of the arrogant PC/leftist mind set and ability to ignore reality.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent analysis of the Atomic bomb and modern society
    A revealing analysis of the political and historical conflicts revolving around the 1995 Smithsonian Air and Space exhibit on the Enola Gay and Post-War America. Through insightful disection of both sides of the EnolaGay exhibit and of post-war America, Linenthal and Engelhardt make aninteresting modern dilemma into a more interesting read.Recommended toanyone who has an interest in the Cold War and of the effects of the atomicbombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima on American and Japanese civilizations. ... Read more

    Isbn: 080504387X
    Sales Rank: 141917
    Subjects:  1. 20th century    2. Hiroshima-shi (Japan)    3. Historiography    4. History - General History    5. History, Military    6. Military - World War II    7. Politics/International Relations    8. United States    9. United States - General    10. Vietnam War, 1961-1975    11. Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975    12. History / United States / General   


    $11.56

    Remaking America
    by John Bodnar
    Paperback (27 December, 1993)
    list price: $24.95 -- our price: $26.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Isbn: 0691034958
    Sales Rank: 499138
    Subjects:  1. History    2. History - General History    3. History: American    4. United States - 20th Century    5. American History    6. Anthropology    7. History / United States / 20th Century    8. Sociology   


    $26.95

    The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past
    by John Lewis Gaddis
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (September, 2002)
    list price: $25.00
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    Reviews (8)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Philosophy Without the Pain
    Gaddis examines the nature of history and the function of historians through a wide range of metaphors. By putting forth the question: How long is the British coast line? Gaddis immediately sets out that if we measure in miles we won't get to the alcoves and cubbyholes and we'll probably end up with a nice round number. If we measure in microns and millimeters, it'll take a while but we'll measure every single bend and dog leg and we'll have a much larger number. Many of Gaddis' metaphors spur philosophical discussions but he does not approach them with a philosophical background, instead he sets out to solve a functional question: What is history? Is it a natural science? If it is, then why can we not replicate any historical findings as biology and physiology can? Is it a social science? Then why do other social sciences like economics and anthropology try to find an independent variable upon which everything hangs when historians try to put out the bigger picture? Gaddis' conclusion then is that history is its own beast. It does not mirror either the hard sciences nor the social sciences although it may pick up some of their properties.

    Gaddis uses metaphors that seem to have little connection with hsitory, such as fractal geometry and natural sciences. The connections are then developed and this may be a way of making scientists understand the nature of history or giving students with a familiarity in natural sciences a correlation to the study of history. Also, Gaddis' humor makes a philosophical discussion of history a little less tense and certainly more cheerful.

    All in all, this book is very readable for a historiography and may appeal to non-historians seeking a perspective on history. The chapters read more like the text of a speech than a textbook so the minimal 140 or so pages will make this a very easy read.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Not a "how-to"
    This short (151 pages) book, really an extended essay, is more of a philosophical meditation on the nature of the historian's craft than it is an instruction manual of historical method. But this is not an esoteric treatise on the nature of causation, or a reflection on such deep questions as the nature of truth, although these issues are addressed briefly, particularly in the chapter entitled, "Causation, Contingency, and Counterfactuals." Most of the work, however, is devoted to various comparisons of History with Science. There are some tremendously interesting observations here. Gaddis points out that many branches of science, such as geology and evolutionary science, are founded on propositions that are no more experimentally verifiable than are the observations of historians. It is worth noting that these, like history, deal with events that occur over extended periods of time. He also draws parallels with modern physics (relativity, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle) and fractal geometry, and makes allusions to certain aspects of chaos theory and set theory. One scientific area that he does not mention is computer science, but the study of neural networks and programs employing "fuzzy logic" could also be used to bolster his contention that many fields of modern science contain within their basic postulates an element of uncertainty and unpredictability that mirror the apparent capriciousness of the course of human affairs. He draws a distinction between those areas of science and others, particularly the "social sciences" and especially economics, which, in his view, attempt to describe complex problems in terms of rigid, categorically independent and dependent variables. Because these approaches oversimplify to the point of absurdity, he argues that they cannot approximate, or, in his formulation, "represent" reality to an acceptable degree.

    There is much in this short book to provoke thought. I don't know much about chaos theory or fractal geometry, and so I cannot comment as to whether Gaddis is merely picking and choosing from the periphery of those fields to illustrate his point, or whether he is truly describing fundamental similarities. Certainly, he does not provide detailed descriptions. And that, perhaps, is the main weakness of the book. The flip tone that he employs at numerous points undermines the seriousness of the discussion and contributes to an impression of a dilettantism, which is not mitigated by a more detailed description of the complex scientific concepts to which he alludes. The overall sense is of undergraduate lectures by a bright professor who is trying to connect his young audience with some difficult concepts. In some ways, however, that is a strength, in that the argument is more accessible than it would be otherwise. But there is a price to be paid.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The lectures were even better ...
    I had the privilege of attending Prof. Gaddis' lectures in Oxford, and enjoyed every minute of it.His writing accurately reflects the lectures;the only thing missing is the Q&A at the end.

    This is not a methodological how-to for historians, it is a philosophical look at the tradecraft, mostly done by comparing it to other disciplines, especially the hard sciences and social sciences.Historians will no doubt enjoy reviewing (maybe reitering) what they've been doing all along;students will undoubtedly learn much from this study.

    Many of the critical comments during the Q&A reflected current fads in historiography, such as subaltern studies, triumphalism, etc.Some of this made it into the book, in Prof. Gaddis' emphasis on solid academic analysis.It is impossible to achieve a totally detached point of view, but the historian should strive toward that goal through the rigors of an honest review of the facts, and the subsequent interpretation.Causation is a difficult point here, in that the latest fads attempt to ascribe causation to whatever their favorite subaltern.Prof. Gaddis notes that causation is perhaps the best we can hope for, turning the clock backwards, searching for the point of no return in events leading to the subject in question.

    His use of metaphors lends much humor to the book, I especially empathized with the one about the spilled truckload of Marmite on the highway between Oxford and London.

    All in all, a delightful book to read, I hope it quickly replaces the really tedious textbooks normally assigned to the study of historiography;it will add greatly to classes on methodology.

    Thanks you, Prof. Gaddis, for this witty, eminently readable gem of a book. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0195066529
    Sales Rank: 280776
    Subjects:  1. 20th Century World History    2. Aesthetics    3. Historiography    4. History    5. History - General History    6. History: American    7. Methodology    8. Philosophy    9. Reference    10. 20th century   


    Mystic Chords of Memory : The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture
    by MICHAEL KAMMEN
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (02 February, 1993)
    list price: $25.00 -- our price: $16.50
    (price subject to change: see help)
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    Reviews (1)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Ground-breaking Panoramic Book on American history
    Ranges from John Adams to Ronald Reagan, from the origins of Independence Day to the Vietnam memorial,from the Daughters of the American Revolution to NAACP.
    This book was so easy to read b/c it was written by a Pulitzer-Prize winning professional who KNOWS how to engage the reader.
    It's in chronological order so you can choose the time periods at your discretion to read about.
    This is a thoroughly comprehensive book, which is almost an Encyclopedia Americana, only in highly interesting narrative form. After reading this book, I felt that I truly understood the nature of the American life and it's main historical figures as human beings.
    Only complaint was that all the photos were b&w, and there weren't enough.
    NYT Book Review said: "Brilliant, idiosyncratic, presented with superlative style laced with refreshing wit."
    TIME said: "Fascinating...a subtlle and teeming narrative." ... Read more

    Isbn: 0679741771
    Sales Rank: 263197
    Subjects:  1. Civilization    2. History - General History    3. History: American    4. Memory    5. Patriotism    6. Social aspects    7. United States    8. United States - General    9. History / United States / General   


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