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Why Do Ruling Classes Fear History? and Other Questions Paperback – July 15, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0312172275 ISBN-10: 0312172273

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Editorial Reviews


"Kaye is an extraordinarily versatile scholar, and his wide-reaching breadth is visible here...[A] powerful book that should be read-and headed-by us all." --Times Higher Education Supplement

Book Description

In "Why do Ruling Classes Fear History," and Other Questions, Harvey Kaye shows how our present-day political and economic elites stand in a long line of governing classes which have been eager to declare an end to the making of history.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (July 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312172273
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312172275
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,576,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on August 23, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author, a self-styled radical historian and fittingly a life-long admirer of Thomas Paine, in this eclectic set of essays written mostly in the early 1990s, offers commentary on the state of democracy in America: how it is remembered or its history; how it is taught; and how the intellectual community engages with it.

The primary motivation for this collection is the widespread propagation of the theme of Fukuyama's "The End of History," 1992. According to the author, that book is a prime example of New Right thinking of the inevitability of the triumph of capitalism, as evidenced by the fall of the Soviet empire. In their thinking, history is a tool to reconstruct our past such that it supports the notion that America's history is one long linear advance of capitalism. The democratic struggles of the past, often against economic elites, involving working people, women, abolitionists, populists, socialists, and the like are ignored, minimized, or worse denigrated. The author suggests that elites do fear any real examination of the past that would uncover those bottom-up citizen efforts to exert control over economics and politics.

The author emphasizes the importance of education in engendering enthusiasm and capabilities of students to become fully engaged citizens in the country's affairs. He contends that would take "radical teachers," the sort who are vilified by the Right, to conduct such classrooms. In other essays, the Right's attempt to impose teaching standards for history, which seek to polish a progressive image of America, is discussed. It is much akin to business standards of selling products or creating images, or basically propaganda. The author also laments the inability or unwillingness of leftist historians to take on a more public presence.
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