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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.
Introduction 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