This unprecedented book by one of Britain's most admired historians describes the intellectual impact that the study and consideration of history has ...Show synopsisThis unprecedented book by one of Britain's most admired historians describes the intellectual impact that the study and consideration of history has had in the Western world over the past 2,500 years.Hide synopsis
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John Burrow?s A History of Histories is a survey of the western tradition of historical writing from Herodotus and Thucydides to the present.
The work is a 500 page survey of dozens of historians writing in different periods in Europe and North America. As far as I could tell the historians represented were a fair selection of the most prominent historians of their ages, though, of course, everyone will have their opinion about the selection of particular writers (why Carlyle but not Burke? for example).
There are many interesting facts and observations in the book and I certainly made notes of some historians to read, but for me this is rather a dull book. I wonder whether reading it from cover to cover you actually get anything you wouldn?t get from reading the respective entries on the different writers and movements in Wikipedia from Herodotus and Thucydides onwards? Certainly, online you would be able to click the cross-references and read the cross references more conveniently.
To be something more than this, for me, Burrow would have had to have had some sort of overarching theory of history-writing to fit his observations in. This would be one I would probably disagree with, but I think that writing this sort of book you have to have some sort of framework to work from to be interesting and memorable, rather than just considering the material case by case, as Burrow does.
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