Dead Certainties: Unwarranted Speculations / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $1.99
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 90%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (73) from $1.99   
  • New (9) from $3.59   
  • Used (64) from $1.99   


Like his The Embarrassment of Riches and the bestselling Citizens, Simon Schama's latest book is both history and literature of immense stylishness and ambition. But Dead Certainties goes beyond these more conventional histories to address the deeper enigmas that confront a student of the past. In order to do so, Schama reconstructs — and at times reinvents — two ambiguous deaths: the first, that of General James Wolfe at the battle of Quebec in 1759; the second, in 1849, that of George Parkman, an eccentric Boston brahmin whose murder by an impecunious Harvard professor in 1849 was a grisly reproach to the moral sanctity of his society. Out of these stories — with all of their bizarre coincidences and contradictions — Schama creates a dazzling and supremely vital work of historical imagination.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a virtuoso performance, Harvard historian Schama ( Citizens ) underscores the abyss between experiential knowledge of an event and historical interpretations of it. This was a BOMC and QPB alternate in cloth. Photos. (June)
Library Journal
This book can be read on at least two levels. First, there are the two intriguing stories told by talented writer and noted historian Schama, author of Citizens LJ 4/1/89-- one about the triumph and death of James Wolfe at Quebec in 1759, the second an exploration of the murder of the Boston Brahmin George Parkman in 1849. But Schama is after bigger game, and his target is the gap between a ``lived event and its subsequent narration.'' In the chasm separating the two lies the ambiguity that obscures a more complete rendering of the past. This experiment in writing history attempts to close the gap through imagination--jumbling chronology to force the reader into more active participation in the story, and adding other voices to the usual historical narration. These include the musings of a governor of Massachusetts, the broad accents of a fictional soldier, and the urbane confessions of a Boston lawyer. These two ``historical novellas,'' as Schama calls them, demonstrate the power of good storytelling in bringing history to life. Previewed in Prepub Alert , LJ 1/91; BOMC and Quality Paperback alternates.-- David B. Mattern, Papers of James Madison, Univ. of Virginia, Charlottesville
From the Publisher
"An infinitely beguiling book...a mind-teasing delight...Schama brings to bear an immense array of narrative elements."— The New York Times Book Review

"Intriguing and provocative... Dead Certainties inspires us throughout to examine our own assumptions about history and fiction"— Newsday

"A virtuoso performance... in Schama's hands the past loses its remoteness and takes on the noise and clutter of experience....He has become one of the few contemporary historians who are read as much for themselves as for their subjects."— Andrew Delbanco, New Republic

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679736134
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/28/1992
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 665,343
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Simon Schama

Simon Schama is the prize-winning author of seven acclaimed books. An art critic and essayist for The New Yorker, he also writes and presents documentaries for BBC television. He is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University and lives outside New York City.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)