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on 10 August 2001
This has to be the ultimate curate's egg of a book -- it is good in parts, but so bad in others. Marwick rests on his laurels as soon-to-be-former Professor of History at the Open University to deliver swingeing sideswipes at every aspect of the profession that he chooses to disagree with, wrapping all this up in the aura of his supposed wisdom and impartiality, lavishing praise on what he considers to be the properly historical parts of, for example, Marxists' work, while condemning their whole theoretical basis out of hand. He also creates a huge catch-all category of 'postmodernists' [which seems at points to include Marxists such as Althusser], whose alleged views and unhistorical methods he persists in deriding throughout the book.
There is a great deal of sensible, basic advice for the beginning historian here, but it is interspersed with a constant flow of comment which is either flippant and offhand, smug and sanctimonious, or bordering on the libellous. Marwick snipes at the idea of the historian as 'auteur' who can say what s/he pleases without regard to the wider profession, but in this book, that is exactly what he has done.
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