- Paperback: 316 pages
- Publisher: Granta Books; New edition edition (8 Oct. 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1862071047
- ISBN-13: 978-1862071049
- Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,401,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
In Defence of History Paperback – 8 Oct 1998
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Top Customer Reviews
In it they will find a strong case for the defence of the old school that history can yield genuine insights into the past. But he doesn't think that history can and should be assimilated into the natural or social sciences. He is sceptical that history can be vindicated by the lessons it teaches or the predictions it makes for the future. There are no laws of history that can be uncovered because they do not exist. But does that just make history a form of poetry or creative writing? No, for the method of history is still concerned with truth-telling about the past. It deals with what actually happened. This cannot be free from controversy or a degree of subjectivity, as different historians will draw varying interpretations from the facts of the past but that's a long way from saying that history is just a fairy tale.
There are three principal reasons why this is so.
First of all, you cannot just spin any old yarn. Evans offers the example of David Abraham's `The Collapse of the Weimar Republic', in which the author attributed responsibility for the collapse of the Republic and the rise of Nazism to big business.Read more ›
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 and Evans's intellectual liveliness that I wanted to know and to think more about historiography. One can ask no more of a book of historiography, a subject easier than its name! A must-read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ripped to pieces on sites such as codoh dot com, inconvenienthistory dot com and holocausthandbooks dot comPublished 10 months ago by Ellison J. Peterson
This such important book because it vindicates the study of history against the stupidity of Postmodernism. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Turnerstudent
The defence of history is partly a survey of the evolution of historical practice, partly the author's opinions about the state of history towards the end of the 20th century and... Read morePublished 17 months ago by D. Halliday
This is a very good book against the deadlock of post-modernism in history. It helped me to understand how powerfully philosophy influences historical research, writing,... Read morePublished on 15 Jun. 2014 by Bookworm
Richard Evans book on the importance of his craft. History is an important aspect of the educational system. Accurate historical education, especially of modern history is vital. Read morePublished on 13 May 2014 by Nicodemus
A powerful polemic by one of the foremost western historians.
Rightly on most philosophy of history students essential reading lists. Read more