Sell yours for a Gift Card
We'll buy it for $0.96
Learn More
Trade in now
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Past is a Foreign Country Paperback – January 29, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0521294805 ISBN-10: 0521294800 Edition: 0th

7 New from $68.86 23 Used from $18.50 4 Collectible from $45.00
Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback
"Please retry"
$68.86 $18.50

There is a newer edition of this item:

The Past is a Foreign Country - Revisited
$26.34
This title has not yet been released.
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student


Best Books of the Year
See the Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Hero Quick Promo
Save up to 90% on Textbooks
Rent textbooks, buy textbooks, or get up to 80% back when you sell us your books. Shop Now

Product Details

  • Paperback: 489 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (January 29, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521294800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521294805
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The past reassures us and helps us to avoid mistakes. It also saps present purposes; tradition is a brake on progress. How we respond to the past, for better or worse, is the theme of this highly original, erudite survey by an American scholar based in London. We are incapable of leaving the past alone, Lowenthal maintains; nostalgia motivates youthful Elvis Presley impersonators and inspires a reverence for Art Deco. On the other hand, monuments may have only the slightest resemblance to the events or people they are meant to enshrine. Just as Lord Elgin dismantled the Parthenon, so today we uproot prehistoric relics; replicas and imitations color the aura of antiquity. A Midwestern laundromat sports a Viking warrior's face to conjure up ties to a mythic past. Over 100 photographs of buildings and objects, plus reproductions of paintings and sketches, illustrate artifacts from everyday life and history. In the Space Age, asserts Lowenthal, we're scarcely aware of the past at all, and that attitude may cancel our future. This imaginative book dislodges deeply held assumptions. February
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"This book is splendid on nostalgia, too, and marvelous on those little bits and pieces from the vanished past which serve to legitimate and celebrate. Best of all to my mind, in an amazing array of illustrations, is the tacked-up timber Grecian pediment presiding over the shack which houses a branch of the Security Marine Bank of Madison, Wisconsin. It is, as you will see, a book which you will enjoy, if you know that the past attracts you, or if you think you are immune to its spell..." Washington Post Book World

"David Lowenthal gives us a new understanding of a univeral human experience by imaginatively refashioning the remains and records of the past in England and America from the Reanaissance to our own time...a significant milestone in the history of thought and culture." Merle Curti, University of Wisconsin

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
7
4 star
2
3 star
0
2 star
1
1 star
0
See all 10 customer reviews
A bit difficult to read but it is well worth every second.
CN4
It is a comprehensive effort to understand how Humanity relates to, and makes use of the Past.
Shalom Freedman
Plus, do make time to read at least ten pages or so to get a feel for his writing!
Almelle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Thomas on September 23, 2003
Format: Paperback
Almost encyclopedical in his treatment of Western cultures' relations to their past, Lowenthal gives the reader a roller-coster ride, from time travel fantasies to Viking logos in Minnesota. Lowenthal is more into exploring our relation to the past than debunking myths, thus being more open to the manifold ways we use the past than in his later book "The Heritage Crusade." One problem remains: Lowenthal's idea about the foreign-ness of the past, that we today have a different way of understanding the passing of time than our medieval ancestors, could have benefitted from more elaboration. Still, this is a masterpiece.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Almelle on November 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
I'm a grad student reading this for a class on 'heritage tourism.' I've enjoyed the flow of his sentences and the interesting images, but I agree with Kenneth (an earlier reviewer): when a hundred-page chapter can be summarized in one page, I've tended to skim quite a bit.

In our class we've read chapters 1,2,5, and 6, and that's made the book a lot more manageable! These chapters have focused on how modern people use the past for present needs, the issues that come with too much focus on the past, and just how we can know 'the past' (through collective history, individual memory, and tangible relics). Chapter 6 is one of the most interesting, as it emphasizes how we change the past (understood as a mental object we've created) through using it and twisting it to serve our purposes.

If you're running short on time, his table of contents and chapter headings are fairly extensive, so it's possible to get a good sense of the book by looking at it's skeleton. Plus, do make time to read at least ten pages or so to get a feel for his writing! If you're a literature sort of person, it's enjoyable and fluid in small doses. :-D
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is a unique of study on how to understand history. I found it almost impossible to put down, and my reference point for touring historical sites and watching movies and televisons shows has been foreever altered. Highly recommended for its readability and fabulous bibliography and footnotes. A must read for anyone interested in history.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is a tough read, but a very informative look into why we view history in the way we do.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is an ambitious effort. It is a comprehensive effort to understand how Humanity relates to, and makes use of the Past. And a central focus is that Past which is in cultural monuments and great creations.

I admit that reading this book I felt overwhelmed and confused by the multiplicity of categories and uses, by the variety of learning and connections. I seemed to lose my inner checkposts, my way of measuring whether what was being said was true to my experience, or not.

And here I felt the strong distinction between the 'public memory' which as I understand it is by and large the subject of the work, and the kind of private individual memory through which we interpret and give meaning to our own lives.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?