The Landscape of History

The Landscape of History

How Historians Map the Past

Book - 2002
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Baker & Taylor
An accessible treatment of what history is and what historians do considers historical truth and consciousness, profiling the historical method as a scientific and artistic process while explaining the importance of history and challenging beliefs in social science. (History)

Book News
Gaddis (military and naval history, Yale U.), writing for a lay audience, reflects on the practices of historians; discusses how they compare with the practices in related social sciences; and, most importantly, examines how historians evaluate and weigh evidence and decide issues of causation and competing historical interpretations. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Oxford University Press
What is history and why should we study it? Is there such a thing as historical truth? Is history a science? One of the most accomplished historians at work today, John Lewis Gaddis, answers these and other questions in this short, witty, and humane book. The Landscape of History provides a searching look at the historian's craft, as well as a strong argument for why a historical consciousness should matter to us today.
Gaddis points out that while the historical method is more sophisticated than most historians realize, it doesn't require unintelligible prose to explain. Like cartographers mapping landscapes, historians represent what they can never replicate. In doing so, they combine the techniques of artists, geologists, paleontologists, and evolutionary biologists. Their approaches parallel, in intriguing ways, the new sciences of chaos, complexity, and criticality. They don't much resemble what happens in the social sciences, where the pursuit of independent variables functioning with static systems seems increasingly divorced from the world as we know it. So who's really being scientific and who isn't? This question too is one Gaddis explores, in ways that are certain to spark interdisciplinary controversy.
Written in the tradition of Marc Bloch and E.H. Carr, The Landscape of History is at once an engaging introduction to the historical method for beginners, a powerful reaffirmation of it for practitioners, a startling challenge to social scientists, and an effective skewering of post-modernist claims that we can't know anything at all about the past. It will be essential reading for anyone who reads, writes, teaches, or cares about history.

Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, 2002
ISBN: 9780195066524
Branch Call Number: 901 GADDI
Characteristics: xii, 192 pages : illustrations, maps ; 22 cm


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