9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: In Defence of History (Paperback)
Evans's book is a crisp, given its remit, well written and comprehensive study of what History is, what it has been considered to be and what its place is in the academy and in society as a whole. He examines the classics of the genre, notably E.H. Carr's still vibrant and clever 'What is History?' and G.R. Elton's 'The Practice of History' and finds them to be lacking, since in the former's History he cuts his coat to his ideological cloth, the other to be too breezily confident in a sort of 'common sense' (an often suspect notion) view of 'what happened'. He confidently identifies what he believes to be their deficiencies and takes in Leopold Ranke and Namier for good measure.
What I like about the book is that it educated me about some writers I did not know and gave me something for my intellect to chew on. Only a fool would not wish to examine for themselves whether Evans is quite correct or fair, but read the others and see if they measure up. I had fun extending my reading and thinking, encouraged by the eloquence of the book and particularly interested in the Post-Modernist turn Evans is keen to reject. I suspect that, as in Literature, that approach is less fashionable these days, but given some of the obscurantist, ill-written, self-sabotaging tosh I still encounter occasionally in this vein, I was pleased to see it taken on and niftily speared. This is important since, if everything is text, as Derrida influentially stated, so too is this, Post-Modernist method. Q.E.D.
I would like him to have looked at the History Workshop and the work of Patrick Wright, a favourite of mine, but it is a compliment to this book's Evans's intellectual liveliness that I wanted to know and to think more. One can ask no more of a book of historiography, a subject easier than its name! A must-read.