Who Owns History?: Rethinking the Past in a Changing World

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Apr 16, 2003 - History - 256 pages
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A thought-provoking new book from one of America's finest historians

"History," wrote James Baldwin, "does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do."

Rarely has Baldwin's insight been more forcefully confirmed than during the past few decades. History has become a matter of public controversy, as Americans clash over such things as museum presentations, the flying of the Confederate flag, or reparations for slavery. So whose history is being written? Who owns it?

In Who Owns History?, Eric Foner proposes his answer to these and other questions about the historian's relationship to the world of the past and future. He reconsiders his own earlier ideas and those of the pathbreaking Richard Hofstadter. He also examines international changes during the past two decades--globalization, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of apartheid in South Africa--and their effects on historical consciousness. He concludes with considerations of the enduring, but often misunderstood, legacies of slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. This is a provocative, even controversial, study of the reasons we care about history--or should.

 

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User Review  - ksmyth - LibraryThing

I picked this up in a bookstore on a trip to Washington, D.C. I am a history guy, read a lot of history, and am a history teacher. I've also read some Eric Foner. He is an original mind, and this ... Read full review

Who owns history?: rethinking the past in a changing world

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Each individual has a vested interest in knowing the past because the past is in everyone. However, "everyone and no one" owns the past and "the study of the past is a constantly evolving, never ... Read full review

Contents

Title Page
ONE MY LIFE AS A HISTORIAN
TWO THE EDUCATION OF RICHARD HOFSTADTER
THREE AMERICAN FREEDOM IN A GLOBAL
FOUR THE RUSSIANS WRITE A NEW HISTORY
HISTORY IN
SIX WHY IS THERE NO SOCIALISM IN THE UNITED
SEVEN WHO IS AN AMERICAN?
EIGHT BLACKS AND THE U S CONSTITUTION
NINE KEN BURNS AND THE ROMANCE OF REUNION
OTHER BOOKS BY ERIC FONER
INDEX

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About the author (2003)

Eric Foner is DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University. He is the author of many highly acclaimed works in American history, notably The Story of American Freedom and Reconstruction. He lives in New York City.

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