Thinking Back is C. Vann Woodward's retrospective view of his experience as one of the foremost historians of the United States. Woodward describes--through a consideration of his previous books and the critical dialogue they have engendered--how the history of the South was viewed and written during the early years of the century, how those views have changed over the decades, and the turbulent forces that have influenced revisions in interpretation, subject matter, and comprehension.
The eminent Southerner reflects on his development as a historian, observing, among other things, that how events happen can be as important as why. PW recommended this book to anyone interested in the historian's craft. (March)
In this blend of autobiography and historiography, Woodward retraces the sources and significance of his writings about the American South. Throughout he remains gracious and generous, though largely unrepentant, as he debates with his critics on the central themes of Southern history, especially his insistence on the social, economic, and political discontinuities marking Southern experience. Woodward reminds us that the perils of writing history include the withering quality of any historical truth over time, neglect by critics, and, most of all, writing without conviction. Woodward again infuses his history with passion, and in a concluding observation worries that the latest new South has lost its sense of vulnerability and guilt by indulging in Reagan-style nationalism and ``innocence . . . by fiat.'' Recommended for university and large public libraries. Randall M. Miller, History Dept., St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia