18 November 2006

FEATURED BOOK: Is history fiction?


What UNSW Press says: Is History Fiction? explores in fresh and innovative ways the perennial question, What is History? How can we in the present know the past? In a wonderful journey that starts with the classical Greeks and travels through the centuries to more recent forms of history that are framed by Marxism, postmodernism and feminism, John Docker and Ann Curthoys find that history has a double character. It is both a rigorous scrutiny of sources, and, because it presents the results of its enquiries as narrative, it is part of a literary world too. Such doubleness is the secret of history’s fascination as an always changing, inventive endeavour. Yet it also explains why history has been a source of sometimes bitter disputes.

What I say: This book is incredibly fascinating if you're interested in historiography. Curthoys and Docker have developed the idea of history's "duality" and how that duality is affected by the endless historical debates and approaches history. They use Herodotus and Thucydides as a basis for their argument, suggesting Herodotus instigated the more literary, story-like history and Thucydides the scientific, empirical history which both still exist today. They write in an easy-to-understand fashion and have extensive sections on renowned historians such as Leopold von Ranke, E.H. Carr and Michel Foucault. This book is written in a way that you can read it in separate sections if you want, which is an invaluable asset to the book as it makes study and research so much easier (as I learned whilst using it to study for History Extension). A great book and definitely one that will be remembered for a looooooong time.

Read it if you like history. Rad.

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26 November, 2006 09:59  

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