Telling the Truth about History

Front Cover
W. W. Norton & Company, 1995 - History - 322 pages
12 Reviews
We have lost our grip on historical truth. Popular films depict subterranean conspiracies that shape historical events and public knowledge of those events. Best-selling narrative histories dissolve the border between fact and fiction, allowing the author's imagination to roam freely. Influential critics dissolve the author herself into one among many sources of meaning, reducing historical knowledge to a series of texts engaged with each other, not with the past. Powerful constituencies call for histories that affirm more than inform. This new book by three of our most accomplished historians engages the various criticisms that have fragmented the authority of historical knowledge. Although acknowledging degrees of legitimacy in the criticisms, the authors launch a pragmatic response that supports the historian, as they put it, in her long climb, notebook computer in tow, up the 300 stairs to the archives in Lyon. Even if historical truth is an ever-receding goal, the effort to approach it, they show, is legitimate, worthy, and governed by agreed-upon rules. And while affirming the claims of women and ethnic minorities to a rightful place in any narrative of American history, the authors insist on the accountability of history. They outline a coherent narrative of the American past that incorporates its multicultural dimension without special pleading.
 

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Review: Telling the Truth About History

User Review  - Joel Zartman - Goodreads

Adequate if uninspiring, ending somewhat tediously. One wishes historians to have a bit more humane learning. Read full review

Review: Telling the Truth About History

User Review  - Ioana - Goodreads

This is a *popular* historiography of history (ie, don't expect many footnotes or sources). It reviews the history of historical consciousness since the Enlightenment--its initial emergence as a ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Introduction
3
Intellectual Absolutisms
13
The Heroic Model of Science
15
Scientific History and the Idea of Modernity
52
History Makes a Nation
91
Absolutisms Dethroned
127
Competing Histories of America
129
Discovering the Clay Feet of Science
160
Postmodernism and the Crisis of Modernity
198
A New Republic of Learning
239
Truth and Objectivity
241
The Future of History
271
Copyright

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About the author (1995)

Margaret Jacob is an author and UCLA professor. Her writings and lectures focus on the work of Newton's immediate followers, and on the British radicals and romantics of the 1790s.

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