Telling the Truth about History

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W. W. Norton & Company, 1995 - History - 322 pages
2 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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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jkmansfield - LibraryThing

“What historians do best,” argue Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob in their 1995 book Telling the Truth About History, “is make connections with the past in order to illuminate the problems ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - AlexTheHunn - LibraryThing

In this work Appleby, Hunt, and Jacob have assembled a collection of essays in modern historiography that raises important issues for consideration. Excellent text for anyone interested in history as a general study. 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
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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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