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on 12 July 2017
great book
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on 19 April 2014
This concise history of art gives an excellent overview of how art history has evolved. For anyone taking a course in art history I would strongly recommend reading this first. Some books are verbose, dense and confusing. This is the opposite. Well written and really helpful.
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on 7 October 2010
This book is really well put together introduction. The book is an excellent place to start for those who are new to art history either as interested readers or as A level students or 1st year university students. It covers a range issues that have affected how art history has been written e.g. focusing on the artist or the style or the type period etc. and how responses to the assumptions made by some art historians have affected how art history has been written. The main strength of the book lies in a good choice of art works that can be cross referenced against each other in many different ways which means the same art work can be used to make several different points which maximises the space available and shows the masterly composition of this very short introduction. This is also shown in the short chapter that deals with philosophical ideas that are relevant to talking about art history. It would not be impossible to give much of an account of each philosopher and the background of their work in the space available, but by focusing on a few viewpoints and how each view point differs from the others, Dana Arnold is able to give a good overview of how different philosophical viewpoints relate to how we talk about art works and their history and this was a elegant solution to the problem of the space available in such a short introduction.
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on 18 May 2009
History is surely one of the most difficult and profound subjects to write a subject on, and John Arnold writes it brilliantly, the book neither being too academic, nor too simplistic.

His enthusiasm comes off every page as a professional historian, and the carefully selected fascinating examples of history really show his passion to give the reader an interesting read.

In the analysis of these examples Arnold shows how history is written (historiography) and that when there is no definite truth, we can infer from what evidence we have to make effectively a collection of truths and stories.

Anyone who thinks history is dreary, or anyone who is slightly interested in it, should give the book a try.
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on 29 April 2017
This book is really useful for my degree and I was amazed that I got a brand new book for less than a pound
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on 18 February 2015
This book was the perfect tool for my studies in Fine Art at University. Written in simple to understand terms, it offers the reader a condensed version of the events that surrounded arts history. A very useful book for getting to grips with how contemporary art is directly reflected by past art. Handy small size too, for carrying around.
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I have always been fascinated with history. The combination of storytelling and solid factual information about peoples and events that are very distant from us, both in time and space, has a lot of intrinsic appeal to me. I have read many books dealing with various historical topics, and have to a lesser degree enjoyed several works of historic fiction. However, I have not reflected much on the art and science of historiography. This short introduction aims to do exactly that - make the reader, and nonspecialist in particular, consider what is it that historians exactly do and what are the limits of historiography.

The book begins with a description of and incident that happened in the early years of the fourteenth century. Using this example, the author demonstrates several important concerns that historians may have when discussing it: the reliability of sources, the context of the incident, possible placement of the incident within some larger narrative and if so which one, etc. Depending on how those concerns had been handled many different schools of historiography had emerged. It is one of this book's strongest features that it doesn't aim to convince the reader in validity or superiority of any one particular approach to writing about history. Instead, it aims to inform and educate the reader so that he or she can read works of history with a more discerning eye.

This is a very well written, thought provoking and informative introduction to history. It manages to challenge the reader to think about history in all sorts of new ways, and yet it remains straightforward and accessible. It is one of the best very short introductions that I have come across.
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on 4 November 2010
This book isn't so much about history, rather historiography (the study of History.) Unlike many academic texts, this short pocket book is easy to follow and read, and the author uses some interesting stories from the past to keep your attention. There are plenty of images too, to jazz up the book. If you're considering studying history at university level - this may be the book to read before deciding. It details the whole history of historiography, and begins to explain the inner workings of studying the past. A good value introduction to the study of history - it might persuade you to learn more!
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VINE VOICEon 11 June 2005
Arnold takes 'historiography' to be the process of writing history, and 'history' to be the result of that process, i.e. to be a set of true stories about the past. If you enjoy reading history, then you should read at least something about historiography, to help you evaluate and interpret what you read. This short introduction to the subject is probably as good a place as any to start and for many readers will be as much historiography as they think they need.
Major figures such as Thucydides and von Ranke are discussed and central issues in the philosophy of history, such as the extent to which people of other times were essentially different from us, are introduced. Arnold presents a wide range of opinions on these various topics, but has a bias toward the politically correct.
His style is readable, if sometimes clumsy, but overall this little book succeeds admirably in its task and contains a wealth of information and opinion. It is recommended for anyone wanting to get beyond the 'true stories' to what history really is.
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on 3 May 2015
I give very few low reviews on Amazon but this book deserves no more than one star. It is quite poorly written and jumps and and forward throughout chapters between ideas that are rarely relevant. Just when you think a word can't be described enough, three or four lines later it is recalled for more use. I've read many in the series and this just doesn't flow with the interest and information I have come to expect from the series. A very short introduction to medicine being the best in the series so far, it is an exciting read and puts this to shame.
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