There has been an ongoing and vigorous debate in the philosophy of history for the last thirty or so years concerning the ways in which postmodernism should or should not impact the writing of history.
In this delightfully polemical book, Richard Evans does not try to engage the writings of the major postmodernists. Do not expect to find counterarguments to the writings of Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard or de Certeau. It is in the writings of thinkers like Hayden White, Frank Ankersmit, Dominick LaCapra, Keith Jenkins, Elizabeth Ermath, Joan Scott, etc. that the major claims of the postmodernists have been made for history in the English speaking world. It is with their writings that Evans engages in debate. This does not, however, put him in the camp of conservatives like Gertrude Himmelfarb, John Vincent, David Harlan and Keith Windschuttle.
Evans is arguing for a middle position- one that emphasizes the recalcitrance of the "facts", i.e., the historical records. Evans denies that all of history is interpretation and that no one interpretation is better than any other. He believes that careful and honest shifting of the historical record will show some or one interpretations to be better grounded in that record than others. On the other hand, he is excited by some of the possibilities for history that have been opened up by those working historians whose work he admires and who are identified with the postmodern camp, e.g., Simon Schama, Theodore Zeldin and Orlando Figes.
One of the main points of his critique is that Evans feels that postmodernism removes the possibility of any sort of critical perspective- he reiterates the old point that if there is no grounds to prefer one interpretation over another, if there is no such thing as a fact than there is no reason to prefer the views of the standard histories of the Holocaust over those of a denier, e.g., David Irving.
This is not the best of the books I have read recently on historiography. Berkhofer's Beyond the Great Story retains that distinction. It does have the advantage of being very well written, very clear in it's presentation and quite enjoyably feisty. Evans' style is like that of a good lightweight- constantly circling, jabbing his opponents, sensing a weakness and then throwing the combination.
If you think my pugilistic metaphor to be inappropriate, ... for a series of short essays Evans wrote in reply to his many and equally nasty critics. This site is probably the best way to figure out if this book is for you.
As for me, I have come to realize that this is a debate without end. Evans did not really settle anything for me. Neither has anyone else I have read lately. He does give you a lot to think about and he points the reader in the direction of a lot of interesting work done by other people.