Evans mounts a defense of doing History that accepts and incorporates many of the points of postmodernist and poststructuralist thinkers, one that accepts parts of the critique of the discipline's foundations without giving up a belief that the past is knowable, even if not always with perfect clarity, and that there are clear and straightforward ways of approaching historical research. In this volume, English historian Richard Evans offers a defence of the importance of his craft. What’s best known about this book is Evans’s defense of history from postmodernism. This book does not analyse a specific event in history, it analyses Historians and the various different forms of approaching history in the profession of an Historian! Richard Evans, distinguished professor of history at Cambridge, published it in 1997. And it allows In Defence of History to begin with statements which appear to accord a relatively high degree of autonomy to the textual activity of history-writing ("texts ... supplement or rework 'reality'" Dominick La Capra, cited with approval, p. 80), slide into intermediary claims ('the past does impose its reality through the sources in a basic way', p. 115; 'the past does speak through the sources', p. 126), and then end up with the resoundingly empiricist conclusion that, despite it all, 'it really happened', we can 'find out how' and know 'what it all meant' (p. 253, the last page of the book). Nor apparently has Evans had time to consider the problems around reading and re-reading Derrida discusses in 'Signature Event Context' (not to mention the issue of the original). Evans is an expert on modern German history, and he wrote a three-volume history of the Third Reich. 2, 3, 9, 30, 35, 36, 37 etc.). Be the first to ask a question about In Defense of History. All in all, a book worth reading for anyone who takes History seriously and wants to understand why and how one does History. Although originally written fifteen years ago, Richard Evans' In Defence of History is still a book I would recommend to both students of history, and those simply curious about the possibility of historical knowledge. That statement is pretty typical of the tone of the book, a robust, earthy common sense in which the word 'paranoia' would be less likely to appear than 'parakeet'. This philosophical c. This is an engaging work if you’re really interested in the theory and philosophy of history. Recent advances in computer technology and satellite mapping have enabled remarkable discoveries of previously unimagined physical 'evidence', from ancient trade routes to the Turkish railway lines that T. E. Lawrence's Arabs blew up. Evans begins by advancing what seems to him incontrovertible: 'present reality can be felt and experienced by our senses' (p. 96). In defence of history. In Defence of History steps aside from the risks entailed in any such critique, preferring a number of sniping remarks along the way. Evans also manages to coherently explain the complex nature of postmodernist criticisms in a clear and comprehensible manner, whilst also discussing the positive impact of these criticisms on historical study as a whole. In Defense of History by Richard J Evans (Author, Cambridge University) A master practitioner gives us an entertaining tour of the historian's workshop and a spirited defense of the search for historical truth. In my days as a member of the English Department, I found my colleagues in History both enviable and arrogant in the way they closed ranks against what they regarded as less rigorous disciplines like mine. These times in which so many of us feel a collective, desperate, and justified desire to be once and for all free of the limited—and limiting—fantasies and projections of other people. by Donald Caldwell, Frontline Books, Barnsley, UK, 2012, $70. I had no idea of the historiography idea or the different ways history can be taught but this book has opened my eyes. Particularly good for history students...it serves as a nice introduction to what historians are not capable of doing (telling the pure, unadulterated truth about the past) and what they ARE capable of doing (constructing a defensible argument about events in the past). I absolutely adored the Trevelyan quotation included by Evans in the final paragraph- 'That which compels the historian to 'scorn delights and live laborious days' is the ardour of his own curiosity to know what really happened long ago in that land of mystery which we call the past. At a time of deep scepticism about our ability to learn anything from the past, even to recapture any serious sense of past cultures and ways of life, Evans shows us why history is both possible and necessary. The first obligation of a critic is to give a fair, accurate and detailed account of the arguments he or she intends to attack. The most extreme postmodernists argue that the past can be described in so many different ways and from so many different points of view that it's impossible to determine what really happened. The fundamental view taken by In Defence of History is that all history-writing faces is the regrettable little difficulty that the past is not actually 'felt and experienced by our senses' in the present. Richard J. Evans mounts a brilliant and compellingly effective defence of the historian’s capacity to reach genuine insights about past events. this was a really interesting introduction into historiography and will definitely be useful to talk about in my personal statement but omg it was so boring and took so long. He points out the contributions of different "schools" of historians, including the relativists, postmodernists, and deconstructionists, while at the same time noting the limitations of each and sometimes mocking those who go too far with their ideas. A great defence of history and a great defense of the truth, Interesting topics and fluent writing. Th. date: Jan 15, 2001 ISBN: 1862073953 Granta Books, London 384 … But Evans skates very lightly for good reason as he is ofte. In Defence of History has already become a standard text in the teaching of history. I know that the old Whitmanesque defense needs an overhaul. The book covers various topics, i remember one of my favorites was when the book asks whether history should be treated as a science? As a by-product of this defence Evans gives a clear survey of what history is and what it claims to do. The writing of academic history seems to be in a crisis. In Defense of Today’s Youth. In a genre over-populated by blinkered (not to say ignorant)and choleric conservative enemies of some ill-defined "postmodernism", Evans' book stands out as a balanced and thoughtful look at what History as a discipline is and should be. 159-60) though no reason is given for this claim (perhaps it has something to do with the logocentrism of supposedly absolute origins?). This book is more-or-less two things: an account of how history is done in practice, more or less; and a critique of postmodernist theories of history. What’s the role of individuals? Summary of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 Chairman Smith’s proposal for the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) focuses on maintaining the strength of our defense enterprise as our nation grapples with a once-in-a-generation health crisis and a heightened social crisis against the backdrop of Gordon Wood | Apr 1, 2010. As a by-product of this defence Evans gives a clear survey of what history is and what it claims to do. The Defence of Poesy Summary and Study Guide Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Study Guide of “The Defence of Poesy” by Philip Sidney. Library descriptions No library descriptions found. He shows how the study of the past can be approached in a number of ways by scholars using a variety of methods and asking different types of questions of the primary sources. But it is not aware of this as a general problem - only as a specific one which affects historians in a particular way, and one they can deal with easily if they are scrupulous and attentive. Eric Hobsbawm. To peer into the magic mirror and see fresh figures there everyday is a burning desire that consumes and satisfies him all his life, that carries him each morning, eager as a lover, to the library and muniment room. He charts a useful middle ground for the working historian that is neither unthinking-elitist-empiricism. It is difficult to imagine a stronger or more convincing case than Evans’s for the distinctiveness of historical knowledge as a mode of human thought. Sir Richard, Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University, is no swashbuckling character. It is fashionable to believe that all historical writing is fiction in the He charts a useful middle ground for the working historian that is neither unthinking-elitist-empiricism or indulgent-political-relativism. Building on (and updating) the debate between E. H. Carr and G. R. Elton about the nature of history and historical research, Evans presents a balanced argument that acknowledges both the objectivity of truth and the subjectivity of the historian. It becomes rapidly clear, however, that the author’s primary intention is to respond to the formidable challenge to history as a discipline presented by now well known postmodern criticism. The author comes across as self important, obnoxious and pretentious. E. H. Carr's What Is History?, a classic introduction to the field, may now give way to a worthy successor. Certainly there should have been a chapter on Hayden White, the most significant historian who might qualify for the adjective 'postmodern'. It is asserted that Derrida's position was that 'Nothing existed outside language' (p. 95). In a genre over-populated by blinkered (not to say ignorant)and choleric conservative enemies of some ill-defined "postmodernism", Evans' book stands out as a balanced and thoughtful look at what History as a discipline is and should be. I took a doctorate in History long ago, and I still believe with Evans that knowledge (some, not all) about the past is accessible and that there are professional techniques for recovering, arranging,and presenting the past that are both valuable and effective. So from a history point of view, this is my first historian book, and this was a compelling read! In Defence of History seems to imply the first since it constantly reiterates a belief that history is 'objective' (see pp. Historical interpretation has evolved 'through contact with the real historical world', a contact said to be 'indirect, because the real historical world has disappeared'; but hey, no worries, for the documents 'which the real world of the past has left behind ... were themselves created in a much more direct interaction with reality' (p. 112). How important is causation? His satirical comments about a number of other historians (especially die-hard postmodernists) are hilarious; nevertheless, his work really is evenhanded. One that respects diversity of method and topic while encouraging tolerance given the inability of any one theory of history to claim a status as 'truth'. (pp. In Defence of History aims to take stock of forty years of historical theory and practice after Carr's ground-setting What is History?. “The first prerequisite of the serious historical researcher must be the ability to jettison dearly held interpretations in the face of the recalcitrance of the evidence.”, “History,” declared Droysen, “is the only science enjoying the ambiguous fortune of being required to be at the same time an art.”, Angie Thomas Invites Readers to a Carter Family Reunion with 'Concrete Rose'. All ideas are equally valid, and the only reason to even read a history book is because it helps the reader to understand the historian and his ideological world. This is the part where the author argues that today’s youth are not so bad. How is the historical record integrated into a coherent and accurate account? Richard J. Evans’ In Defence of History is an attack on the influence of postmodernism on the practice of history. Lyotard? Pub. In Defence of History. In this new edition, Evans replies to his critics — conservative and postmodernist — in a measured, forceful afterword. Gosson’s work faced a lot of scorn and opposition; Sidney’s Defense of Poesy– also known as An Apology for Poetry– was a response to Gosson. The book is an exploration of small unit tactics in a … It appeared in the British United Service Magazine under the pseudonym, Lieutenant N. Backsight Forethought ("BF"), who is the narrator of the book. So when Patrick Joyce tells us that social history is dead, and Elizabeth Deeds Ermarth declares that time is a fictional construct, and Roland Barthes announces that all the world's a text, and Hans Kellner wants historians to stop behaving as if we were researching into things that actually happened, and Diane Purkiss says that we should just tell stories without bothering whether or not they are true, and Frank Ankersmit swears that we can never know anything at all about the past so we might as well confine ourselves to studying other historians, and Keith Jenkins proclaims that all history is just naked ideology designed to get historians powers and money in big university institutions run by the bourgeoisie, I will look humbly at the past and say despite them all: it really happened, and we really can, if we are very scrupulous and careful and self-critical, find out how it happened and reach some tenable though always less than final conclusions about what it all meant." Review Defence of History and Class Consciousness. Ostensibly targeted at postmodernism, the book actually aims to stir a middle ground, praising some cultural history and relinquishing old-fashioned claims of objectivity while claiming there is a legitimate purpose to history-writing. Elton. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. Evans tackles almost every classic issue the study of history has to deal with: can we reach the past? A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics. WHEN Lukács’ book History and Class Consciousness appeared in 1922, it caused an uproar in the Communist International. So is the next. Also the relativism is represented by the critique of Carr 'What is history?" Evans has also taught at the University of Stirling, University of East Anglia and Birkbeck College, London. This philosophical current in its most extreme form has undermined the fundamentals of historical study, but Evans acknowledges it also has brought some valuable new insights. Evans tackles almost every classic issue the study of history has to deal with: can we reach the past? Historical monographs pour from the university presses—at least 1,200 or so a year—and yet have very few readers. This was a lot of fun to read, as Evans is quite wry and funny and has a pleasant flow to his writing. In the end, his book is a much-needed dose of common sense. From November 1990 to early January 1991, I used Refutation of official history (which in my head was a variant of In defence of history) as title for the longest series in my Thursday column in those days. —Contemporary Sociology. Doesn't a historian's scholarship include enough O-level French to distinguish between 'Rien n'existe hors du language' and the much more troubling assertion Derrida actually made? But overall this a great read, and if your history student, it will help you analyse source documents and history in general in a more academic way! In Defence of History was well received by some London reviewers on grounds that it saw off the invading hordes of postmodernist. A convenient claim of our postmodern times is that historical truth does not exist, or, at the very least, is not accessible to us. For this view the footnote (number 36) cites pages in David Lehman's shaky and one-sided book, Signs of the Times. British army, military force charged with the defense of the United Kingdom and the fulfillment of its international defense commitments. And sometimes I felt it would be just better to read that book instead. Get A Copy Amazon It is said that Derrida 'rejected the search for origins and causes as futile' (pp. In Defense of Food Summary. Fri 14 Jan 2005 20.42 EST Evans may not know much about postmodernism but he knows what he doesn't like. Taking paradigm to mean 'theories, assumptions' (as Evans does, p. 42) I think I can show that his whole conception and defence of history takes place within a familiar, traditional paradigm of which he remains unaware. Summary of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 Chairman Smith’s proposal for the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) focuses on maintaining the strength of our defense enterprise as our nation grapples with a once-in-a-generation health crisis and a heightened social crisis against the backdrop of In his review of my book In Defence of History (LRB, 15 October) Peter Ghosh claims that I am engaged in a ‘polemic against history since 1960’, that my book defends an ‘exaggerated empiricism’ based on the ‘fetishising of documents’, that I believe that facts and documents ‘speak for themselves’. A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics. However, in the first year of its publication in France, readers purchased twenty thousand copies of his Being and Event (2001). I respect Evans as a historian, and chose to teach this book after having side-lined it a few years ago because of his important work in the Lipstadt/Irving trial. He argues that literature is a more effective means of education than history or philosophy because of it’s artistic nature. Can there be said to be a real history, or merely interpretations? What’s the role of individuals? Yes, maybe they are more focused on achievement, and maybe they are excellent sheep without as much intellectual curiosity. Too often he seems to assume written documents are the principal sources for historical knowledge. [Another dodgy qualifier, I would say: what extent is envisaged by 'to a large extent', and why does this latitude exist at all?]. Evans is quite supportive of the useful correctives and insights postmodernism provides, while pushing firmly back on the more absurdist, reductionist claims. The massive controversy this book has aroused amongst British historians proves it once again. In fact they argue that the sources historians use are distorted by t. Richard Evans book, In Defense of History is not for everyone. Excellent intro to anyone interested in the field, Evans offers an introduction to and defense of history as a discipline. Historical monographs pour from the university presses—at least 1,200 or so a year—and yet have very few readers. In Defence of History has already become a standard text in the teaching of history. In Defence of History acknowledges that it's not easy to read a text but, as was noted before, is innocent of the problems introduced into reading by the distinction between signifier (the sound image) and signified (meaning or concept). Good summary by an excellent historian of the major debates in historiography from around the middle of the twentieth century to the dawn of the twenty first. Is an objective account possible? Eric Hobsbawm. Richard J. Evans. In Defense of History is a compelling challenge to postmodern fashion, written by new intellectuals on the left who are reviving historical materialism as an alternative. Though his name is on the cover Richard J. Evans did not really write In Defence of History - rather, the dominant paradigm of the English empiricist tradition wrote it for him, because he made no critical attempt to interfere with its passage through him onto the page. 'Nor is the Kuhnian notion of a paradigm really applicable to history; historians in general do not work within rigid and constricting paradigms' (p. 43): the qualifiers here make this a typically slippery statement (historians don't work within paradigms at all? I took a doctorate in History long ago, and I still believe with Evans that knowledge (some, not all) about the past is accessible and that there are professional techniques for recovering, arranging,and presenting the past that are both valuable and effective. I'm teaching this book in a graduate seminar on research methods, so I may have to update this review based on student response. It’s not often that I read a book that’s written by a character in a movie, but I did so when I read Sir Richard Evans’s In Defense of History (1998). I’m going on a roll sharing all of my final essays with you guys because they have been incredibly difficult to write and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished throughout the semester! I found this book by the emeritus Regius Professor of Modern History agreeable and sensible, but a trifle disappointing. How much, and how so? Etc. Thus: interesting, but not a classic, and not a real introduction to the study of history. Dismissed in a single sentence and a bizarre one at that, to the effect that 'master-narratives are the hegemonic stories told by those in power' (p. 150). As a defense against the influence of postmodern epistemologies on historical theory & practice, I think this book has become two things: (1) a historian talking shop in some detail (2) a more general, mostly critical account of postmodernism. This book was written before the publication of his three volume history of Nazi Germany and I often wished I could ask specific questions such as, 'Does it matter that we lack a written order by Adolf Hitler to exterminate the Jews?' The writing of academic history seems to be in a crisis. While he seeks to fight push back against the most radical postmodernist critiques of history writing, he also shows that the discipline of history has gained from the incorporation of techniques from other disciplines. The gap between reality and representation, including historical reality, historical representation, far from being radical and irremediable, consists only of readily discernible degrees of directness and indirectness. Being and Event, for example, has been published in French, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, German, … At a time when fact and historical truth are under unprecedented assault, Evans shows us why history is necessary. He points out the contributions of different "schools" of historians, including the relativists. It’s not often that I read a book that’s written by a character in a movie, but I did so when I read Sir Richard Evans’s In Defense of History (1998). In fact they argue that the sources historians use are distorted by the views of those who created them, and the books historians write are so distorted by their views as to make them no different than fiction. The book gives an overview of some of the major movements in the study of history over the past 200 years, but its primary objective is to defend history from postmodernists. While he seeks to fight push back against the most radical postmodernist critiques of history writing, he also shows that the discipline of history has gained from the incorporation of techniques from other disciplines. In Defence of History. A brilliant, balanced and open-minded discussion of what historians are trying to do and how they are trying to do it. Evans' argument of middle-grounded liberalism and acceptance also uses historical literary evidence to st. 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