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In Defence of History Hardcover – 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: GRANTA BOOKS; First Edition edition (1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862070687
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862070684
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,216,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By reader 451 on January 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
In Defence of History aims to take stock of forty years of historical theory and practice after Carr's ground-setting What is History?. Ostensibly targeted at postmodernism, the book actually aims to stir a middle ground, praising some cultural history and relinquishing old-fashioned claims of objectivity while claiming there is a legitimate purpose to history-writing.

Predictably, Evans stirred a riot among the academic community, and his book was excoriated by hard-core objectivists and fluffy postmodernists alike. But while the book has strengths and weaknesses, they are probably not what the author thinks they are. In Defence of History is good at summarising historiographical trends, from Von Ranke's revolution to today. As such, it will be useful to history students, who take exams on this. It is also hugely entertaining in its examples, its discussion of individual historians' works. Evans pulls absolutely no punches, and his historiographical erudition is monumental (he is a Cambridge professor, by the way). Indeed, his own defence in the face of his book's critics, provided in the Afterword, is probably the book's most readable part.

But I found In Defence of History less good at theory. Evans's conclusion, called Objectivity and its limits, is somewhat muddled and boils down to the idea that as long as the historian is scrupulous in his method all will be fine. Then Evans criticises Carr's opinion that facts are created in the act of being picked up by historians. Evans claims that facts pre-exist history-writing, and that subjectivity intervenes only in the interpretative phase. But this skirts Carr's argument that there is an infinite number of potential facts, and that the historian's selection of what is relevant is subjective.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jose Alfredo Sanchez on November 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Evans provides a telling contrast of concepts underlying the notion of hisrorical knowledge. In the process exposes the logical consecuences of applying postmodernism to its ultimate possibilities : the complete dissolution of meaning. Which involves posmodernists propositions too, resulting in an intellectual dessert exclusively populated by rethorical and political arguments. His approach is basicallly casuistic which undermines its effectiveness , contributes to a somewhat personalistic appproach and increases the size of the book unnecessarily. My balance is clearly positive for the book.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Smith on December 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In a time of postmodern thinking. It is difficult for any person, college student or otherwise, to be able to study history. This book takes this problem and dissects it in a way that is easy to understand and makes logical sense. Richard Evans is able to take the postmodernist argument and point out both its pro's as well as the problems with it. This is great book for anyone of any reading level and understanding on the different types of the discipline of history.
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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful By HomeMaker on September 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
I just can't trust Evans, he is so hypocritical and misleading. Scrupulous is a term Evans really has no understanding.

Like Churchill, Evans uses well the English and wouldn't spare anyone to bully and satisfy their vanity, the former confusing the social awareness to war and the latter to obscurity.
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