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Edward Hallett Carr : What Is History? (Penguin History)
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Author: Edward Hallett Carr
Title: What Is History? (Penguin History)
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Published in: English
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 188
Date: 2006-11-01
ISBN: 0140135847
Publisher: Penguin Books
Weight: 0.35 pounds
Size: 4.92 x 0.59 x 7.6 inches
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Who is to say how things really were? In formulating a modern answer to the question 'What is History?' Professor Carr shows that the 'facts' of history are simply those which historians have selected for scrutiny. Millions have crossed the Rubicon, but the historians tell us that only Caesar's crossing was significant. All historical facts come to us as a result of interpretative choices by historians influenced by the standards of their age. Yet if absolute objectivity is impossible, the role of the historian need in no way suffer; nor does history lose its fascination. This edition includes new material which presents the major conclusions of Professor Carr's notes for the second edition and a new preface by the author, in which he calls for 'a saner and more balanced outlook on the future'.
Reviews: chris (Japan) (2013/01/04):
Who is to say how things really were? In formulating a modern answer to the question 'What is History?' Professor Carr shows that the 'facts' of history are simply those which historians have selected for scrutiny. Millions have crossed the Rubicon, but the historians tell us that only Caesar's crossing was significant. All historical facts come to us as a result of interpretative choices by historians influenced by the standards of their age. Yet if absolute objectivity is impossible, the role of the historian need in no way suffer; nor does history lose its fascination. This edition includes new material which presents the major conclusions of Professor Carr's notes for the second edition and a new preface by the author, in which he calls for 'a saner and more balanced outlook on the future'.





chris (Japan) (2013/01/04):
What is History is necessarily dated - historiography does move on, seminal historical issues (the terror of the Soviet Union) have evolved and changed dramatically since the time of writing. The book is also completely biased in Carr's own skewed humanist liberal image of progress through reform, and the subjetive nature of the historian's viewpoint.

None of this spoils one jot an excellent volume (though the preface material adds little, as another reviewer has noted). It is packed with vignettes, riffs and intellectual trinkets, carefully outlying a consideration of what is history - how does causation work? Does history progress? How does the individual fit into society?

There is plenty to cherish in this slim volume, many intellectual reference points, and the odd passage that will raise an odd eyebrow or two - for examole Carr's contention in the final chapter that progress only comes about by radical reform of society through reason, implying that those in the conservative, pragmatic school have offered little to nothing towards human progress.

Well worth reading for anyone involved in the practice or teaching of history, or about to become involved, at whatever level.




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