11 July 2014

What is History?

Essential Bibliography

What books and articles belong on a short list of essential readings defining history?

Marc Bloch, The Historian's Craft (1953) might make the list. Bloch and Lucien Febvre founded the influential Annales School. Perhaps instead of, or in addition to, The Historian's Craft, the short list should include Peter Burke, ed., A New Kind of History: From the Writings of Lucien Febvre (1973).

I am reasonably certain that the list must exclude Arnold Toynbee, A Study of History, 12 vols. (1934-1961). However, perhaps there is merit to M.F. Ashley Montagu, ed., Toynbee and History: Critical Essays and Reviews (1956).

E.H. Carr, What is History? (1961) certainly belongs on any short list. But what about the responses?

Geoffrey Elton, The Practice of History (1967).
Hugh Trevor-Roper, "E.H. Carr's Success Story," Encounter (1962), 69-77.
Michael Fox, ed., E.H. Carr: A Critical Appraisal (2000).
John Lewis Gaddis, The Landscape of History (2004).

There are dozens of others.

Would it be cheating to list the entire print run of the academic journal History and Theory (1960- )?

I am inclined to leave out Peter Novick, That Noble Dream: The 'Objectivity Question' and the American Historical Profession (1988). This book lacks international scope. But this omission could be an error.

Is there a place on a short list for Herodotus, The Histories (c. 440 BCE)? Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War (c.395 BCE)? Tacitus?

The provocative Carl Becker, "Everyman His Own Historian," American Historical Review (1932), 221-236 certainly merits inclusion.

Is there a single text by Leopold von Ranke that would serve to note his contribution to historiography?

Perhaps an important element concerns the practice of history appears with the inclusion of such works as Sam Wineburg, Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts (2001) and Lendol Calder, "Uncoverage: Toward a Signature Pedagogy for the History Survey," The Journal of American History (March 2006), 1358-1370.

History is as much a way of thinking as an object of study.

My short list of no more than a dozen titles remains to be compiled. Suggestions are welcome.

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