History is usually classified as a social science, but Burrow eloquently demonstrates that the writing of history is an art. And since historians engage in an art form, they are required to use rigor, discipline, and, especially, analytical skill. It is that skill that separates Herodotus and Thucydides from earlier Egyptian and Mesopotamian scribes, whom Burrow classifies as record keepers rather than historians. As he examines the historical writings of Livy, Bede, McCaulay, and such twentieth-century historians as Huizinga and Bloch, it is fascinating to see the evolution of various historiographic trends. Some view history as a working out of a divine plan. Others are militant secularists with a contempt for the great man theory of development. What seems to unite all great historians is a sincere, if inevitably biased, effort to find deeper meanings that transcend particular events and help us better understand how individuals function as social actors. While this book will be especially valuable to historians, general readers can also learn much from Burrow’s superbly written analyses of these great histories and those who wrote them. --Jay Freeman
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Burrow marshals a lifetime of knowledge and guides the reader effortlessly across the ages.”
“A fascinating compendium.”
—The New Yorker
"A triumph. . . . Reminds us of how often the narratives of the great historians resemble works of literature and of how important a secure grasp of historical fact can be to the progress of culture and the fate of nations."
—The Wall Street Journal
“Absorbingly informative. . . . An exemplar of how history should be written. Witty, scholarly and, above all, fair.”