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History and Historians: A Historiographical Introduction Paperback – 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0132064910 ISBN-10: 013206491X Edition: 3rd
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Surveying historical thinking in the West from ancient times until the present, this very accessible text focuses on historiography, philosophy of history, and historical methodology, introducing the main issues and problems to beginning students with thorough and balanced discussions.

From the Back Cover

Surveying historical thinking in the West from ancient times to the present, this very accessible book focuses on historiography, philosophy of history, and historical methodology, introducing the main issues with thorough and balanced discussions. This comprehensive overview examines Greek, Hebrew, and Christian historiography; explores the impacts of the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, and the professionalization of history within European universities. Aims and Purposes. The Beginnings of Historical Consciousness. Historical Consciousness in the Modern Age. Philosophy of History: Speculative Approaches. Philosophy of History: Analytical Approaches. Reading, Writing, and Research. Professional History in Recent Times. For readers/students of history or anyone who is interested in the development of historical thought. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall; 3rd edition (1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 013206491X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0132064910
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,538,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 48 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Levesque on December 10, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This short book does a good job of providing an overview of Western historical thinking from Herodotus and Thucydides to the modern period. The first chapter is a brief discussion of why we study history to begin with: curiosity, a need to bring order to the world, identify cause and effect, study the identity of a people, calculate the consequences of our actions, and to provide society's memory.

Chapters two and three review the evolution of historical writings and their approach. Gilderhus begins with the ancient historians with a discussion of history in Greece and Rome and then reviews the influence of Christian thought; a paradigm against which history revealed the workings of God's plan. This perspective began to disappear as Western Christianity divided and historians of various religious persuasions wrote histories supporting their perspectives of the past. Enlightenment historians went on to reject a religious approach or even a factual approach wishing to rely on reason for their proofs while at the same time denigrating the past. This gave way to the influence of romanticism and nationalism in the 19th century which led to a more scientific approach to research and analysis. (p. 36) (In some ways this was a reaction to the emphasis on religion and God on man but it could also be a reaction to the renaissance emphasis on the greatness of classical civilizations.)

Chapter 4 then reviews the philosophical aspects (speculative approaches) of history; Gilderhus says there are three schema: cyclical, providential, and progressive (p. 49) and discusses each in turn.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jordan T. Lawrence on October 2, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have to preface this with the caveat that my graduate-level historiography class was taught by Dr. Gilderhus, though that was several years ago. Then again, he didn't see the need to use this text at that level of study. Where I first read it was in my undergraduate historiography class. The text isn't earth-shattering nor meant as such. As an undergraduate though, I found the text highly informative on the basics of the history of history, its theory and various methodologies. Dr. Gilderhus has come up with perhaps the most elegant, but not simplistic, definition of what history is that I have yet to read. For Dr. Gilderhus, history is "the true story of the human past." It's a definition that works well for the non-history types but still offers something for more advanced readers to unpack. And that's the beauty of this text. It's not meant as a complex treatise on historiography but as an initial pass at the major figures, modes of thought and methodological developments that have brought Western historical thought to where it stands today. For a beginning student or avid amateur you'll find the text an accessible entry-point into historiography. While there are many other texts, such as E.H. Carr's "What Is History?" that provide a deeply nuanced examination of the field, having the basics already laid out allows one to focus on those nuances without needing to look up a name every other page.
I would recommend this text to anyone, even advanced-level history students, who want to quickly grasp the basics of historiography. As any good primer text does, "History & Historians" invites the reader to delve deeper into the topic but still stands on its own strengths. I gave the text only a three-star rating because, as I said, it isn't a masterful and innovative text.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Alan Kirby on March 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
An excellent book introducing the origins of historical thought, the changing ideas and methods of history, and the challenges of history in the postmodern era. Also, the introduction provides a great discussion on the importance of studying history. A very understandable and readable book, only 135 pages. I recommend it highly for anyone interested in studying historical philosophy.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Holff on March 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
Mark Gilderhus' book is a concise look at the evolution of historical research and reporting in a well written, easy to read format which brings life to a less than exciting subject. I was assigned this book for a graduate course on historiography. History and Historians is a good companion to David Fischer's Historians' Fallacies, Davidson and Lytle's After the Fact and Richard Evans' In Defense of History.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Karl G. Larew on November 12, 2014
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I've used earlier editions and needed the latest. I'll use it as a brief intro to historical methodology in a graduate seminar in the spring. I like the way he incorporates the "history of history," that is, the development of historical thought over the centuries. This grounds methodology in philosophy and guards against "presentism," that is, the idea that we moderns have the last and only word on historical thought. Gilderhus's book is clear and enjoyable.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Moravec on October 18, 2014
Format: Paperback
extraordinarily conservative view of what historiography is, verging on hagiography of Ancient Greeks (actually describes Thucydides and Herodotus as geniuses). Subtitle should be a Western Historiographical Introduction as in the first few pages we are informed everything else will be excluded. The whole narrative is a giant teleology towards histories of/as truthiness peaking in the 19th century, with histories of twentieth century depicted as one long decline. Presentism seeps into the narrative at many points via value laden comparisons and descriptions. All these flaws mean the book is not even suitable for undergraduate instruction.
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