The Purpose of the Past

  • by Gordon S. Wood
  • Narrated by Malcolm Hillgartner
  • 10 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

History is to society what memory is to the individual. Without it, we don't know who we are and we can't make wise decisions about our future. But while the nature of memory is constant, the nature of history has changed radically over the past 40 years.In The Purpose of the Past, historian Gordon S. Wood examines this sea change in his field through consideration of some of its most important historians and their works. He offers wonderful insight into what great historians do, how they can stumble, and what strains of thought have dominated the marketplace of ideas in historical scholarship. The result is a history of American history, as well as an argument for its ongoing necessity.A commanding assessment of the field by one of its masters, The Purpose of the Past will enlarge every reader's capacity to appreciate history.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

What is his point?

I listened to over two hours of this book and still have no idea what the author is trying to impart to the reader. He also makes the assumption you have read every history book he cites and know the context of the passage(s) he's citing. He cites many, many books, authors, and passages. He is all over the place, he never gets an idea fully across to the reader.

I spent most of the two hours listening trying to figure what the point of this book is. I'm not getting any "wonderful insight". The dust jacket is better reading than the book is.

I've downloaded well over 100 books on Audible and this is one of the worst. I'm sorry I wasted my money. I will not finish this one.
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- Tammy

A measured take on history writing

This book is a serious review of a great deal of recent historical work (mostly US Colonial and Revolutionary history). It's well written and argued, laying out broad trends and covering a lot of topics outside of the time periods covered. The books reviewed here don't have to be read before listening to this book-- the reviews fully cover the topics and ideas. This is a wonderful way to cover the period and hear about recent trends in history writing without buying dozens of titles.

You won't be lost with this guide. The presentation is also well done and very clear. If you are at all interested in early American history, and curious about how it's being written, this is a great book.
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- Eric

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-14-2008
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.