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Recovering the Past: A Historian's Memoir Hardcover – June 15, 2004
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From the Back Cover
When a first-rate historian reflects on his life and work with candor and wisdom, other historians will want to read it. But McDonald has written a book that anyone who cares about education, or is just in the mood for a witty romp through the vicissitudes of academia, will enjoy and profit from.--Eugene D. Genovese, author of The Southern Tradition
A delightful and informative account that captures the sense of intellectual adventure that drew McDonald to the life of a historian, as well as his thoughtful reactions to the controversies that have plagued the profession in recent years.--Diane Ravitch, author of The Language Police
Top Customer Reviews
Recovering the Past, a historian's memoir is written for "that elusive critter called the general reader, or, more precisely, for the vast number of people who genuinely love history for its own sake--which, as will become evident, I regard as eliminating a sizable majority of professional historians."
At the outset of the book it becomes clear that McDonald, who has lived and breathed the study of history for half a century, does not march in lock-step with most of his brethren in academia, an often mirthless, self-righteous breed with axes to grind. With a gift for coupling scholarship and insight with intelligent (and frequently irreverent) humor, McDonald deftly unravels tales of history gone awry, mishandled history, and misguided historians.
The book opens with a history of the writing of history. The nearly exponential increase of research materials available to historians during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries led to a simultaneous explosion of theories regarding both the craft and the responsibility of the historian. This is a clear and fascinating introduction to the story that follows.
Chapter two is a whirlwind history of America and the presidency. Some presidents are dispatched with a sentence, for example: "Fortunately for President Warren G. Harding, he died." "Taft was enormously fat and had the personality of a dead halibut." We get the backdrop against which American historiographers of the twentieth century will be set, and tune into the style and rhythm of trenchant wit that punctuates the book throughout.
Into this narrative enters young Forrest McDonald, a kid from east Texas growing up during the depression.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I got to know Mr. McDonald personally by reading this book. What a man he was!Published 4 months ago by RON NIX
We all owe a debt of gratitude to the young Forrest McDonald for demolishing the once popular, but basically unresearched, notions of Charles Beard in McDonald's We the People: The... Read morePublished on August 30, 2005 by Anson Cassel Mills