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Essaying the Past: How to Read, Write, and Think about History / Edition 3

Essaying the Past: How to Read, Write, and Think about History / Edition 3

by Jim CullenJim Cullen
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Part research manual, part study guide, and part introduction to the study of history, Essaying the Past guides the reader through the nuts and bolts of producing good historical prose, offering key strategies and useful tips.

  • Includes expert advice on writing about history, conducting good research, and learning how to think analytically
  • Covers important topics such as framing questions, developing a strong introduction and topic sentences, choosing good evidence, and the crucial role of revision
  • An annotated case study takes the reader through one student’s process of writing an essay and illustrates how strategies discussed in the book can be successfully implemented
  • Six appendices cover the major issues facing students today, such as the dangers of plagiarism and the role of the internet

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781119111900
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 12/19/2016
Edition description: Third Edition
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Jim Cullen teaches history at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York, USA. He was previously a Preceptor in the Expository Writing Program at Harvard University, USA. He is the author of nine books, among them Imperfect Presidents: Tales of Misadventure and Triumph (2007), The American Dream: A Short History of an Idea that Shaped a Nation (2003), and Born in the U.S.A.: Bruce Springsteen and the American Tradition (1997).

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition ix

Preface to the Third Edition xiii

Acknowledgments xv

Introduction to the Student: Why Would You Look at a Book Like This? 1

Part I Thinking and Reading about History 5

1 History: It’s about Time 7

2 What’s the Story with History? 14

3 The Sources of History 20

4 Good Answers Begin with Good Questions 29

5 Search Engines, Research Ingenuity 35

6 How to Read a Book without Ever Getting to Chapter One 44

Part II Writing about History 57

7 Analysis: The Intersection of Reading and Writing 59

8 Making a Case: An Argument in Three Parts 67

9 Defining Introductions 74

10 Strong Bodies (I): The Work of Topic Sentences 86

11 Strong Bodies (II): Exposition and Evidence 94

12 Strong Bodies (III): Counterargument and Counterevidence 104

13 Surprising Conclusions 111

14 Scaling the Summit: Crystallizing Your Argument 118

15 Writing is Rewriting: The Art of Revision 123

16 Putting It All Together: The Research Essay (A Case Study) 130

Conclusion: The Love of History 149


A Writing an Essay: Ten Easy Steps in Review 152

B Essay Varieties: DBQs, Reviews, and Comparison Assignments 154

C Let’s Give a Hand: Bibliographies and Footnotes 160

D Credit Scams: The Dangers of Plagiarism 170

E Web of Lies? Weighing the Internet 174

F A Glossary of Key Terms 177

G More Reading about Writing 182

Index 185

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From the Publisher

Praise for the first edition:

“There's a level of sophistication in Essaying the Past that is disguised by its utterly clear and engaging style. Jim Cullen tells students just what they need to know to write about the past.”
Mari Jo Buhle, Brown University

“The ultimate insider’s guide to historical writing, the new gold standard in the field.”
Kerry Walk, Otis College of Art and Design

Praise for the second edition:

“Newly revised and better than ever, Essaying the Past remains the single most useful resource for history students and instructors in high school and college.”
Burke Miller, Northern Kentucky University

“Jim Cullen presents a compelling case for the historical essay as a tool of learning and plots the course for success with a rare combination of clarity, sophistication, humor, and easy candor.”
James E. Wadsworth, Stonehill College

“A clear, concise and engaging guide to the practice of history. Jim Cullen excels in walking students through all the steps of researching and writing a persuasive paper.”
Carter Jones Meyer, Ramapo College of New Jersey

“In this first-rate book, Jim Cullen delivers a concise and accessible guide to the critical work that historians do: reading, writing, and thinking about history. Students will find it informative and a pleasure to read.”
Elizabeth Smith-Pryor, Kent State University

“With lucidity, verve, and empathy, Cullen lays the writing process bare, including fumbles, setbacks, and paths not taken. In analyzing the writing of history, he also shows why it matters.”
Roberta Pergher, The University of Kansas

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