Telling the Truth about History

Telling the Truth about History

3.6 3
by Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, Margaret Jacob
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

"A fascinating historiographical essay. . . . An unusually lucid and inclusive explication of what it ultimately at stake in the culture wars over the nature, goals, and efficacy of history as a discipline."—BooklistSee more details below

Overview

"A fascinating historiographical essay. . . . An unusually lucid and inclusive explication of what it ultimately at stake in the culture wars over the nature, goals, and efficacy of history as a discipline."—Booklist

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Three historians here team up for a worthy, demanding foray into the battle over the academy, taking on ``both the relativists on the left and the defenders of the status quo ante on the right.'' The authors argue that skepticism and relativism about truth, in science, history and politics, stems from the democratization of American society and higher education. They survey the ``heroic model'' of science produced in the Enlightenment, the roots of relativism in Hegel, and the influence of Marx, Durkheim and Weber on latter-day historical schools. They tackle the virtuous mythologies of American history, and critiques by progressives like Charles Beard and post-WW II social historians. They also cite 1960s historians of science who launched politicized critiques and postmodernists who attacked claims of objectivity. The authors urge historians to have a ``stronger, more self-reflexive and interactive sense of objectivity.'' In a final chapter addressing ``political correctness'' and multiculturalism, the authors sensibly call for a middle ground, but diminish their message with a paucity of models. Appleby teaches at UCLA, Hunt at the University of Pennsylvania and Jacob at Manhattan's New School for Social Research. (Apr.)
Library Journal
In a tightly reasoned narrative full of -isms and -ists, the authors, all academic historians, relate how religion and science legitimized the writing of history as a vehicle for the revelation of truth, progress, and nationalism rather than as a medium for the examination of collective individuals. They critically dissect various schools of historiographic thought and make a plea for a multicultural democratization of history in America. We are reminded of the authors' championship of women, minorities, and workers at every opportunity. The prose bounces along more than it flows, and the dashes of irony are welcome. Footnotes conclude each chapter. Rather than aggressively screaming for reform in the writing of American history, this book describes how we arrived where we are and suggests we begin the journey anew, only this time allowing everyone to participate. This is an enlightening overview of American historiography for public and academic libraries.-- James Moffet, Baldwin P.L., Birmingham, Mich.
Mary Carroll
What is the role of history--what is the "point" of history--in a postmodern world of "absolutisms dethroned," in a technological society that has become deeply skeptical of the Enlightenment's heroic model of science? "Telling the Truth" is a fascinating historiographical essay that traces the scientific and political ideas and ideals of the Enlightenment through American history from the Revolutionary War to the present. It is the "insistent democratization of American society," the authors argue, that has produced our "skepticism and relativism about truth, not only in science but also in history and politics," yet they maintain "that truths about the past are possible, even if they are not absolute, and hence are worth struggling for." Appleby and her coauthors have produced an unusually lucid and inclusive explication of what is ultimately at stake in the culture wars over the nature, goals, and efficacy of history as a discipline.
New York Times Book Review
A confident, breezy account of the historical profession's encounters with post-modernism and multiculturalism.— David A. Hollinger
The New Republic - Gordon S. Wood
“It is hard to think of three historians better equipped to deal with threats to the discipline of history . . . [which] is being fundamentally challenged in new ways.”
Caroline Walker Bynum
“A wise and moderate book. The authors, all distinguished historians . . . ,speak with confidence about the value of both the historian's traditional craft and modern criticism of it. Their sane and readable discussion should give hope to [those] who . . . believe in the possibility—even the pleasure—of writing history.”
New York Times Book Review - David A. Hollinger
“A confident, breezy account of the historical profession's encounters with post-modernism and multiculturalism.”
Gordon S. Wood - The New Republic
“It is hard to think of three historians better equipped to deal with threats to the discipline of history . . . [which] is being fundamentally challenged in new ways.”
David A. Hollinger - New York Times Book Review
“A confident, breezy account of the historical profession's encounters with post-modernism and multiculturalism.”
The New Republic
It is hard to think of three historians better equipped to deal with threats to the discipline of history . . . [which] is being fundamentally challenged in new ways.— Gordon S. Wood

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393078916
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
02/14/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
814,498
File size:
1 MB

What People are saying about this

Caroline Walker Bynum
A wise and moderate book. The authors, all distinguished historians . . . ,speak with confidence about the value of both the historian's traditional craft and modern criticism of it. Their sane and readable discussion should give hope to [those] who . . . believe in the possibility—even the pleasure—of writing history.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >