"At once a strong advocate and an impassioned critic of the historical profession, James Banner insists in specific and telling ways that history's mansion has many rooms and a public responsibility. What a shame that so many historians are crowded into one room and cut off from our public. All historians, all humanists, should read this book." -Thomas Bender, New York University
"Being a Historian ranges widely and expertly over the past and present forms of historical work. It's the only book I know that offers anything like a survey of the multiple forms of historical practice in contemporary America, and seeks to put them into context. This book is sharp and up-to-date, and it will help to set off discussions that the historical profession and the nation's history departments need to hold." -Anthony Grafton, Princeton University
"James Banner is history's Dutch uncle. His Being a Historian, which examines developments, problems, and issues in the field over the last several decades, pulls no punches and should be required reading for those contemplating careers in history, as well as their teachers and mentors. But readers should not assume that Banner is here making a plea for returning to a mythical or imagined golden age in history-far from it. Informed by an impressive command of recent research and writing on history, as well as a lifetime of varied experience as an historian, Banner finds much about which to be optimistic. His chapter on public history is one of the most perceptive and informed analyses I have seen to date of how the field has developed, including its growing pains and problems, as well as its promise for enhancing historical scholarship and the practice of history in the future. Leaders in the field, for whom public history has become a major focus of interest, would do well to give this work serious attention." -Arnita A. Jones, Executive Director Emerita, American Historical Association
A book for beginning and experienced academic and public historians, Being a Historian concerns the condition of the discipline of history in the United States today, what aspiring and mature historians need to know about it, and what might be undertaken to remedy its shortcomings. This is an overview of the diversity of professional history that historians need to consider as they learn and practice history.