In a virtuoso performance, Harvard historian Schama ( Citizens ) underscores the abyss between experiential knowledge of an event and historical interpretations of it. This was a BOMC and QPB alternate in cloth. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This book can be read on at least two levels. First, there are the two intriguing stories told by talented writer and noted historian Schama, author of Citizens ( LJ 4/1/89)-- one about the triumph and death of James Wolfe at Quebec in 1759, the second an exploration of the murder of the Boston Brahmin George Parkman in 1849. But Schama is after bigger game, and his target is the gap between a "lived event and its subsequent narration." In the chasm separating the two lies the ambiguity that obscures a more complete rendering of the past. This experiment in writing history attempts to close the gap through imagination--jumbling chronology to force the reader into more active participation in the story, and adding other voices to the usual historical narration. These include the musings of a governor of Massachusetts, the broad accents of a (fictional) soldier, and the urbane confessions of a Boston lawyer. These two "historical novellas," as Schama calls them, demonstrate the power of good storytelling in bringing history to life. Previewed in Prepub Alert , LJ 1/91; BOMC and Quality Paperback alternates.
- David B. Mattern, Papers of James Madison, Univ. of Virginia, Charlottesville
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
The premise of the book, taking us from the death of General Wolfe to the trial of Dr. Webster, is tenuous. Read morePublished 18 months ago by James E. Swinnen
It's kind of a strange book, consisting of just two stories. One is his interpretation of a 19th century dismemberment investigation. Read morePublished on September 18, 2012 by Dennis Maloon
This was most likely a failed attempt at selling some more copies. Being a student of history myself I understand the "truth" that historians do not know exactly what happened in... Read morePublished on January 30, 2006 by Daniel Calandro
Other reviews address the ways Schama deals with issues of truth, the boarder between history and fiction, and techniques of recreating the past in more vivid and personal ways. Read morePublished on September 15, 2005 by Sage Ross
This book explores the boundary between recounting the past and creating the past. The writing is beautiful, the ideas are well-delineated, and the examples are compelling. Read morePublished on August 25, 2000 by Marcy L. Thompson