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The Historian's Craft: Reflections on the Nature and Uses of History and the Techniques and Methods of Those Who Write It. (Vintage) Mass Market Paperback – March 12, 1964

ISBN-13: 978-0394705125 ISBN-10: 0394705122 Edition: Vintage

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The Historian's Craft: Reflections on the Nature and Uses of History and the Techniques and Methods of Those Who Write It. (Vintage) + The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past + A Pocket Guide to Writing in History
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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage
  • Mass Market Paperback: 197 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Vintage edition (March 12, 1964)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394705122
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394705125
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Marc Bloch was one of the great French historians.
Robin George
For the critical mind however, this book proposes a system of logic that allows one to discern true from false.
B. Kopenhaver
I have read and enjoyed this book for years and think you will find it well worth reading and re-reading.
Reference Librarian

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on May 4, 2003
Historian Marc Bloch was Jewish. Under normal conditions this would not be a problem. But Bloch lived in France when World War II started; when the Nazis invaded and began to round up every Jew they could get their hands on. After refusing to leave France, Bloch joined the French Resistance to drive the occupiers out of the country. The Germans eventually captured Bloch and after a lengthy detention that involved torture, executed him. Bloch was a well known historian who wrote several studies on French medievalism, most notably `La Societe Feodale.' His importance, other than this book, revolves around his association with the Annales School of historical inquiry, a school that also included historians Lucien Febvre and Fernand Braudel. `The Historian's Craft,' written while Bloch was imprisoned and never completed, has become a staple in the study of history since its publication.
`The Historian's Craft' transcends any specific field of historical study. This is not an examination of French medievalism or Russia in the 19th century; it is not about the history of the American West or African slavery. Instead, the author looks at the techniques of historical inquiry. He tries to help the beginning researcher and writer of history develop a mindset of questions and tactics that would be helpful in studying the past. Any history student who reads this book at first does not understand why the book is such a big deal. `I know all of this already,' is probably a common response to Bloch's book. Then you realize that the reason you know this is due to the importance of what the author wrote. You absorbed it from professors who learned it from reading this book.
This French historian deals with a massive amount of information useful to the budding historian.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Edward Bosnar on May 31, 2001
Any book that ends with an ellipsis is frustrating, but this little gem by Marc Bloch, one of the 20th century's great historians before his tragic death at the hands of the Nazis in 1944, is a wonderful explanation of history as a social science and scholarly pursuit. Even in its unfinished form, "The Historian's Craft" provides useful working definitions of history as an academic subject, and some of the general guidelines that should be adhered to by historians. Rather than being a dry, jargon-filled text, the writing style here is very readable and engaging - thus, even though professional historians or history students would be the most interested in its content, it can be read and enjoyed by non-historians (for whom I believe Bloch intended it to a certain extent). This book should definitely top the reading list of any college student even thinking of majoring in history.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 2, 1998
Regretably unfinished, The Historian's Craft attempts to show the importance of historical study. It addresses issues ranging from the reasons for historical study to the problems encountered by historians in analysing evidence left by the past. It considers historical criticism and revisionism, showing the reader what types of revisionism is acceptable and what types are to be feared. Bloch died before completing the work, and the missing chapters on the causes of history and applying historical lessons to the future are greatly missed. The text is very readable, with many anecdotes to drive a point home. The lack of footnotes is due to his untimely death, but the purity of his vision and clarity of his logic eliminate the need for full documentation.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Molon Labe on November 22, 2003
To Marc Blanc, the craft of history is an endeavor not to be taken lightly. It is far from a trivial indulgence of human curiosity but a serious science, in fact, "the most difficult of all the sciences." The Historian's Craft is Bloch's portrait of the paragon of history as well as a road map for striving toward that ideal.
Before buying or reading this work, the reader should be aware of three of its unusual aspects. First, by virtue of tragic circumstances, the book is in unfinished form. Bloch, a renowned scholar who was active in the French resistance, was captured by the Nazis and eventually executed, leaving only approximately two thirds of the envisaged work complete. Second, as a result of his fate, the written chapters published in this book did not undergo the polishing they certainly would have received before publication. As a result, the work is uneven and the last finished chapter in particular ("Historical Analysis") is difficult to follow in parts, ponderous in its structure and language and largely lacks the clarity and smoothness of earlier chapters. Finally, the book contains many references to, from the layman's perspective, relatively obscure contemporary and historical French academics. To the eye and ear of the amateur, these allusions disrupt the cadence of the book and diminish the power of its logic.
With those disclaimers in place, there are many fascinating and enjoyable components to the book. First and foremost, suffused throughout is Bloch's passion for the practice of history. Yet his passion is not the naïve infatuation of youth but rather a mature expression grounded in the sober responsibility and extreme difficulties inherent in the craft.
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