The Pursuit of History: Aims, Methods and New Directions in by John Tosh

By John Tosh

This can be a revised 3rd variation of the best-selling creation to the perform of heritage. considering that first booklet in 1990, John Tosh's groundbreaking consultant to the research of heritage has helped readers locate their method round tough and occasionally arguable issues. famous for its readability, breadth and even-handedness, typical revision of the textual content has ensured it continues to be thoroughly updated. truly based all through to steer the reader gradually in the course of the concerns, the book's sensible, non-polemical process makes it a competent and depended on source. For readers attracted to historiography.

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Extra info for The Pursuit of History: Aims, Methods and New Directions in the Study of Modern History

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As the Revolution went off course, many of the radicals acquired a new respect for history too. Those who still believed in freedom and democracy came to realize that humans were not so free from the hand of the past as the revolutionaries had supposed, that progressive change must be built on the cumulative achievements of earlier generations. Only a visionary would accept the full implications of metahistory; only an antiquarian would be content to surrender all claim to practical utility. The most convincing claims of history to offer relevant insights lie somewhere between these two extremes.

The effect of this programme was to drive a bigger wedge between élite and popular attitudes to the past which has persisted until today. Professional historians insist on a lengthy immersion in the primary sources, a deliberate shedding of present-day assumptions, and a rare degree of empathy and imagination. Popular historical knowledge, on the other hand, tends to a highly selective interest in the remains of the past, is shot through with present-day assumptions, and is only incidentally concerned to understand the past on its own terms.

We have not changed. 23 Nationalism of this kind rests on the assertion of tradition, rather than an interpretation of history. It suppresses difference and change in order to uphold identity. 16 TPOC01 16 5/2/02, 10:34 AM historical awareness IV Traditionalism is the crudest distortion of historical awareness, because it does away with the central notion of development over time. Other distortions are more subtle. One that has huge influence is nostalgia. Like tradition, nostalgia is backward looking, but instead of denying the fact of historical change, it interprets it in one direction only – as change for the worse.

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