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Posted October 26, 2001
The title suggests that John Lukacs is to tell us how to study history, but it becomes quite obvious that he hasn't a clue. He logically starts with the question: 'What is history?' Then quickly answers: 'No definition will do.' 'Definitions are tricks for pedants.' From there on, his text is vacuous and pointless. Lukacs provides no criteria by which to differentiate between that which is history and that which merely has happened; he provides no means to determine that which is intellectually interesting and significant in explaining our lives. Professor Lukacs purports to trace the changes in the concept of history in his chapter entitled, 'The History of History.' This historical path starts with the Old Testament and ends with the development of the professional historian in the early 1900s. Apparently Professor Lukacs does not believe that any new concepts of history have been adopted that are worthwhile examining: 'The historical profession, no more and no less than other professions, is not immune to the intrusion of ideological fads such as Psychohistory or Feminist History or Multiculturalism. There are many sorry examples of these, especially in our time.' In the chapter entitled, 'The Methods of History,' one would expect how to develop theories, identify sources, interpret raw data, and deal with conflicting views and interpretations. Instead Professor Lukacs tells us of the use of footnotes and bibliography plus the difference between primary and secondary sources. The only instruction the author provides the would-be historian is to read. Quoting a Swiss historian, Jakob Burckhardt, '`You must know how to read.' And by this of course he did not mean speed-reading or other devices, but that you must acquire the practice and particular quality of your reading.' But he provides no clue as to the nature of this 'particular quality.' This book is of no help to a student who wishes to write history let alone become informed of the various views as to its definitions and approaches of investigation and writing.
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Posted July 8, 2006
i had to read this book for summer reading, and when i first looked at it i figured it would be another borefest. but when i finished it, i really liked it. it made a lot of sense to me. and it was short,which is always a plus for summer reading! it was a really good book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 18, 2004
Keeping the the above in mind, Lukacs is right. History is written by the winners and depending on who's viepoint the one takes; the 'same' story will be different. I also suggest to anyone to view some of Kurosawa's films in order to realize what is relative. Great work.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.