Detachment and the Writing of History: Essays and Letters

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Cornell University Press, Aug 3, 2010 - History - 256 pages
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First published in 1958, Detachment and the Writing of History collects essays and letters by Carl L. Becker in which the noted historian outlines his views on the study of history, the craft of the historian, the art of teaching, and the historical evolution of the idea of democracy. Together, these invaluable writings demonstrate Becker's conviction of the moral seriousness of the historian's calling and of the importance of history as a factor, at once intellectual and artistically imaginative, in the life of society.

 

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Contents

Detachment and the Writing of History
3
Review of Henry Adams The Degradation of the Demo
29
On Writing History
35
What Are Historical Facts?
41
What Is Historiography?
65
Letters on History
79
On Being a Professor
91
Learning and Teaching
114
The Art of Writing
121
Letters on Education
145
Why De Tocqueville Wrote Democracy in America
167
Europe through the Eyes of the Middle West
177
The Dilemma of Liberals in Our Time
188
What Is Still Living in the Political Philosophy
214
Index
241
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About the author (2010)

Few historians of the United States have written as well as Carl Becker, Cornell University's famous professor of modern European history. Becker was born in Iowa and studied at the University of Wisconsin, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1907. His study The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers (1932), is a classic, as is The Heavenly City Revisited. Becker taught at Dartmouth and the University of Kansas before joining the Cornell faculty in 1917. After his retirement in 1941, Beck was professor emeritus and university historian at Cornell. His work continues to remain a model for writers of history, with its economy of words, keen analytical sense, and graceful style. As a distinguished essayist, practicing historian, and apostle of democracy, Becker almost always made freedom and responsibility his themes. Beck died in 1945.

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