A Restless Past: How Historians Deal with America / Edition 1

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At a time when public commemorations and remembrances often develop into battlefields of contested meanings, historians play an even greater role in shaping the way the American public sees and understands its past.

Distinguished historian Joyce Appleby has been at the forefront of many of the recent debates about historians and the public's history. In this engaging work, she brings together her most important reflections on the historian's craft and its importance. A Restless Past carefully examines the ways in which the dynamic events of the second half of the twentieth century have significantly altered the way historians approach the past and highlights the incredible power they hold in shaping a national identity. Through the considerable ideological shifts of the last half century, historians have responded by asking new questions about those who preceded us and created powerful identities for those who had been long ignored.

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Editorial Reviews

A valuable contribution to the discourse about the public role of history and historians.
James T. Kloppenberg
This fine book showcases Joyce Appleby's trademark blend of ambitious arguments, meticulous scholarship, and sound judgment. Addressing controversial and important topics ranging from the shaping of popular memory and the uses of scholarship to the proper historical understanding of early American culture, capitalism, and postmodernism, these essays will delight and enlighten Appleby's many admirers and earn her plenty of new ones.
Gordon S. Wood
A marvelous collection of essays. Joyce Appleby brings her remarkable intelligence to bear on a number of important issues in American historiography.
Jack P. Greene
This superb collection of previously published and unusually thoughtful and well-informed essays represents an impressive exploration of the interactions between historians and the cultures in which they lived by one of the most penetrating historical analysts of the generation that dominated historical scholarship during the last quarter of the twentieth century.
Sean Wilentz
Among Joyce Appleby's largest gifts is her unsurpassed skill as a historical essayist, who says more in a few pages than most historians say in hundreds. This splendid collection shows her at her best, taking on huge themes in American history with great lucidity as well as learning—and with her singular mix of fierce intelligence and wise humanity.
Amanda Heller
Appleby casts intriguing light on the Founding Fathers, in particular the capacious and often contradictory mind of Thomas Jefferson, and presents a provocative comparison between the election of 1800 and that of 2000. . . . Throughout she offers a spirited defense against critics who envision American history as an heirloom to be passed down through the generations in mint condition, and historians as the glorified butlers in charge of keeping it polished.
Peter S. Onuf
Joyce Appleby's timely new collection of essays addresses controversial issues facing historians and citizens alike at a critical time in American history as well as in the history of American history-writing. A Restless Past displays the penetrating intelligence and generosity of spirit that we have come to expect from one of our most distinguished historians.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742542525
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/15/2005
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 5.74 (w) x 8.78 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Joyce Appleby is emerita professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is currently the co-director of the History News Service, and is past president of the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, and the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Without Resolution: The Jeffersonian Tension in American Nationalism
Chapter 2: A Different Kind of Independence: The Postwar Restructuring of the Historical Study of Early America
Chapter 3: The American Heritage: The Heirs and the Disinherited
Chapter 4: Recovering America's Historic Diversity: Beyond Exceptionalism
Chapter 5: The Enlightenment Project in a Postmodernist Age
Chapter 6: One Good Turn Deserves Another: Moving beyond the Linguistic: A Response to David Harlan
Chapter 7: The Power of History
Chapter 8: Presidents, Congress, and Courts: Partisan Passions in Motion
Chapter 9: The Vexed Story of Capitalism Told by American Historians

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