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.More
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A measured take on history writing
Not a book, just a collection of book reviews
Unfortunately there's no suggestion in Audible's description of this title that it's not a book planned from beginning to end to cover a particular subject. In fact, it's merely an ad hoc collection of book reviews. Any well-published academic can do this, of course, and one feels taken in after buying the book and getting through the introduction to find that it's not at all what the advertising makes it out to be. The same is true of Tony Judt's Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten 20th Century. These books need to be marketed honestly. There's no way they compare to their authors' planned works covering well-chosen and deeply researched topics. Not that I mind buying a book of republished book reviews either, but customers should be told that's what they're getting. Audible: 0 stars.