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Historiography in the Twentieth Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge Paperback – 28 Feb 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Wesleyan University Press; 2 edition (28 Feb. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0819567663
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819567666
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.1 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 424,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"No one looking for a well-informed introduction to some of the key views of history adopted by professional historians over the last century or so...could find a better one than this." --Richard J. Evans, History and Theory

About the Author

Georg G. Iggers is an internationally recognized authority on intellectual history and comparative international historiography. He is the author of New Directions in Historiography (1975, 1985) and The German Conception of History (1968, 1983), both published by Wesleyan University Press. Iggers is Distinguished Professor of History emeritus at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

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It is mostly a consultation text for university students or history lovers. It provides a clear and thorough account of the development of the contemporary historic thought
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Perfect conditioned. A great buy!
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Amazon.com: 11 reviews
121 of 123 people found the following review helpful
An excellent and well-written overview. 23 Dec. 2002
By greg taylor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
One of the great revelations I had in college many, many years ago occurred in the stacks of the library. I was doing some research on Wilhelm Dilthey and found myself looking at several thousands of books devoted to the history of philosophy. At that moment I began to have some idea on how difficult it is to acquire a magisterial overview of any field of inquiry. It takes a lifetime of study and the mastery of several languages to develop have such an overview. And sadly, that knowledge sometimes gets pored into a book that relatively few people ever read.
This book by Georg Iggers represents that level of learning. Iggers specializes in German intellectual history but has read deeply in the historical work done in Italy, France, England and the U.S. of A. as well.
What he is trying to do in the brief book (147 pages of text, 23 pages of footnotes) is to give an overview of the most influential approaches to history of the last century. His work is divided three main parts. The first section covers the latter part of the 19th century and the early 20th. This period is dominated by the influence of Ranke and his ideas. Iggers also discusses the influence of Weber, Troeltsch, Meinecke, Karl Lambrecht, Parrington, Beard, Becker and many others that were involved in these early disputes. Obviously, Iggers can only cover a few of these people in any sort of depth but he seems to have a gift for summarizing the main point of a debate in a few lines.
One note of caution: with any such survey, I cannot help but wonder how accurately the author is expressing the views of those s/he is writing about. Iggers interprets Dilthey in a way that I disagree with but which is common enough. This is the only time in this book that I found myself disagreeing with his presentation except for that on Hayden White. More on that later.
The second part of the book covers the period just before and after WW II when the other social sciences began to make their influence felt in way history was practiced. Iggers talks at length about the body of work surrounding the journal, Annals . He also covers the work of the Historical Social Science school in Germany (Hans Wehler, Eckert Kehr, and Jurgen Kocka among others) as well as Marxist historiography from that period (people like Maurice Godelier in France, E.P. Thompsom and Christopher Hill in England).
This second part of the book was the most informative for me. I was ignorant of many of the Germans and obviously haven't paid enough attention to the work of Braudel. Iggers is great for orienting yourself to explore some of these schools of history.
The last section is on the postmodern critique of history, the development of schools of microhistory, and the rise of schools of history focusing on women or ethnicities that are outside the grand narrative of Western History.
I found the most interesting subsection to be that on the Italian school of microhistory. Carlo Ginzberg is probably the best known proponent to those of us who can only read English. Proponents of this school feel that large scale theories about history do not represent accurately the life experience of the actual actors of history. Their focus is on a much smaller scale- the semiotics of a village during the lifetime of one person.
And now for Hayden White. I have never been able to read Metahistory. That may be more of a reflection on my inadequacies as a reader rather than White's as a writer. Iggers summarizes White's argument as something along the lines of all historical writing must use the same rhetorical devices of emplotment as does fiction therefore it has no more truth value than fiction. If this is really what White's argument amounts to, it borders on the absurd. I find myself wanting to give White another try just to confirm my suspicion that this does not really represent his argument adequately.
This is a bit of a quibble however in regards to this excellent volume by Iggers. This survey could profitably be read by most sophomores or juniors majoring in history or philosophy in college. The writing is clear, the scholarship is daunting (especially in regards to the German historians) and the presentation is pithier than my review (sigh). Iggers may be a little unfair to some of those he discusses but he does his job as well as it can be done, I suspect. It really is up to the reader to go from there.
As for myself, even though I have read in the philosophy of history off and one for over twenty five years, I still learned quite a bit. If nothing else, I was reminded about just how little I really know
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Liberal and broad, but imprecise 1 Mar. 2008
By CB23 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Excellent overview of 20th century historiography, and particularly impressive in its dealings with German and Eastern European works. Well-suited for teaching and study; Iggers takes all trends and ideas seriously. My only reservation is that the term "postmodern" is used to cover almost everything that has been written the last 40 years -- leaving the term hopelessly wide, and many categorizations pretty meaningless.
Clear and comprehensive 12 Aug. 2013
By LEONARDO JULIO WAISMAN - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very lucid exposition of main currents of history writing in the 20th century. The only "but" is that occasionally it gets a little repetitive.
Another excellent book from Iggers. 25 Aug. 2014
By Pipat Pasutarnchat - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A short profound modern historiography book from Iggers. Apart from the broad scope, this book also covers the challenging threat from postmodernism or linguistic turn for the history writings which Iggers can defend nicely. This book is a must for the person that is interesting in historiography.
Writing History 1 Sept. 2013
By Luv2Learn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having retired form teaching history in 1999, Mr. Iggers presented wonderful insights and understanding as to the changes in approaches to writing 'histories' in the postmodern period.
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