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Histories and Fallacies: Problems Faced in the Writing of History Paperback – November 3, 2010
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“This is a very good book, full of historiographical wisdom. I recommend it strongly as a sure and encouraging guide to budding historians befuddled by the so-called ‘history wars,’ and to anyone who is interested in the challenges attending those who represent the history of Christian thought.”
—Douglas A. Sweeney, Professor of Church History, Director of the Jonathan Edwards Center, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
“Carl Trueman’s cogent and engaging approach to historiography provides significant examples of problems faced by historians and the kinds of fallacies frequently encountered in historical argumentation. Trueman steers a clear path between problematic and overdrawn conclusions on the one hand and claims of utter objectivity on the other. His illustrations, covering several centuries of Western history, are telling. He offers a combination of careful historical analysis coupled with an understanding of the logical and argumentative pitfalls to which historians are liable that is a service to the field and should provide a useful guide to beginning researchers. A must for courses on research methodology.”
—Richard A. Muller, P. J. Zondervan Professor of Historical Theology, Calvin Theological Seminary
“Because the past shapes the present, a just understanding of the past is important for any individual, society, or church. Here is wise and practical advice for those wanting to write history for others about how to do it well. Follow this guidance and avoid the pitfalls!”
—David Bebbington, Professor of History, University of Stirling
About the Author
Carl R. Trueman (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is the Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary and pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Ambler, Pennsylvania. He was editor of Themelios for nine years, has authored or edited more than a dozen books, and has contributed to multiple publications including the Dictionary of Historical Theology and The Cambridge Companion to Reformation Theology.
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Top Customer Reviews
Histories and Fallacies: Problems Faced in the Writing of History comes across as a condensed course on the art of history. Drawing from his deep knowledge of the field, Trueman explores four major problems faced in the writing and studying of history and for each of these finds captivating case studies to prove his point. At once technical and compelling, I found myself actually interested in history for once (distant memories of dusty schoolrooms, monotone schoolmasters and drooping eyelids were long gone) and understanding the complexities of the retelling of past events from a contemporary perspective.
The opening case study deals with the peculiar and repugnant issue of Holocaust Denial. It is in this opening chapter that Trueman comes out strong against the modern fad of relativizing everything. As he points out here, "unbiased" and "objective" are not the same thing. No worthwhile history can be truly unbiased.Read more ›
The Introduction serves as a road map of sorts ad is a very good one at that. In Chapter 1, Trueman discusses the difference between neutrality and objectivity. While no historian will be neutral in his/her retelling of the past, there will be verifiable facts, evidence, etc. by which one may ascertain what actually occurred. Trueman walks through some of the claims of those who deny the Holocaust in order to bring to light some of the basic strategies of good (and bad) historical method.
Trueman then moves to a discussion of interpretive frameworks in Chapter 2. Call it what you will: worldview, presuppositions, ideological commitments, beliefs; we all have them, and they drastically influence how we interpret the truth, including the truth about the past.Read more ›
This book is actually pretty difficult to review. It's difficult because you can actually learn a good deal of diverse things such as Holocaust denial, Marxism, and the "racism" of Martin Luther. Trueman takes various areas of historical research and discusses them while teaching the reader how to do history.
In the first chapter he discusses Holocaust denial and various ways that historians deny history. In the second chapter Trueman explores the grand scheme of Marxism and shows how Grand Schemes can lead to fallacious thinking and bad history. In the third chapter the reader is exposed to the pitfalls of anachronism. Various historical questions are explored such as "was Calvin and Calvinist?" and "was Martin Luther a Jew-hating racist". Trueman shows how such questions are off-the-mark historically. The final chapter is a conglomeration of some of the most typical fallacies in historical research.
Obviously this book is not for everyone. That is partially why I am only giving it a quick review. Even though the writing is often hilarious and witty, if you don't give much of a care about "doing history" then you will be bored out of your gourd. But for those of us that are history nerds, and especially those of us that are charged with writing history/biographies, then this book is phenomenal.
So, if you like history buy this book. If you don't like history keep the name Carl Trueman in mind and perhaps pick up some of us other offerings.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Carl Trueman has written a modest, yet extremely helpful and readable little book on the task of the historian, entitled Histories and Fallacies. Read morePublished on November 26, 2013 by Johnny Walker
I found the material rather focused on one group of history deniers. Overall though it's a useful text in historiography.Published on September 20, 2013 by Michael W Craven
This quick read provides a basic and anecdotal introduction to doing history. The section on method, fallacies, and how to become a better historian were quite helpful. Read morePublished on May 27, 2013 by Jesse Richards
Over the past couple of years I have become increasingly skeptical of history. It seems as though today we have everyone just re-writing history, re-interpreting events with the... Read morePublished on January 18, 2013 by Brandon P. Lehr
This little volume is an examination of problems faced in the writing of history (actually, that's the subtitle). Read morePublished on October 16, 2012 by David
Carl Trueman argues a work of history should not seek to be neutral, but it should seek to be objective in nature. Read morePublished on March 7, 2012 by Philip S. Roeda
This book contains axiomatic warnings about the writing of past events and how we should be careful sifting reliable from unreliable records and accounts. Read morePublished on July 7, 2011 by Hande Z