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
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)
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