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Landscape of History : How Historians Map the Past (02 Edition)by John Lewis Gaddis
Synopses & Reviews
and#147;Why are Kazakhstan and Montana the same place?and#8221; asks the opening chapter of Kate Brownand#8217;s surprising and unusual journey into the histories of places on the margins, overlooked or erased. In turns out that a ruined mining town in Kazakhstan and Butte, Montanaand#151;Americaand#8217;s largest environmental Superfund siteand#151;have much more in common than one would think thanks to similarities in climate, hucksterism, and the perseverance of their few hardy inhabitants. Taking readers to these and other unlikely locales, Dispatches from Dystopia delves into the very human and sometimes very fraught ways we come to understand a particular place, its people, and its history.
In Dispatches from Dystopia, Brown wanders the Chernobyl Zone of Alienation, first on the Internet and then in person, to figure out which versionand#151;the real or the virtualand#151;was the actual forgery. She also takes us to the basement of a hotel in Seattle to examine the personal possessions left in storage by Japanese-Americans on their way to internment camps in 1942. In Uman, Ukraine, we hide with Brown in a tree in order to witness the male-only annual Rosh Hashanah celebration of Hasidic Jews. In the Russian southern Urals, she speaks with the citizens of the small city of Kyshtym, where invisible radioactive pollutants have mysteriously blighted lives. Finally, Brown returns home to Elgin, Illinois, in the midwestern industrial rust belt to investigate the rise of and#147;rustalgiaand#8221; and how her formative experiences have inspired her obsession with modernist wastelands.
Dispatches from Dystopia powerfully and movingly narrates the histories of locales that have been silenced, broken, or contaminated. In telling these previously unknown stories, Brown examines the making and unmaking of place, and the lives of the people who remain in the fragile landscapes that are left behind.
Book News Annotation:
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 (booknews.com)
What is history, and why should we study it? Is there such a thing as historical truth? Is history a science? John Lewis Gaddis answers these and other questions in this short text, providing a searching look at the historian's craft.
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.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -182) and index.
About the Author
John Lewis Gaddis is the Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History at Yale University. A leading authority on Cold War history, his books include We Now Know, The Long Peace, and Strategies of Containment.
Table of Contents
1. "The Landscape of History"
2. "Time and Space"
3. "Structure and Process"
4. "The Interdependency of Variables"
5. "Chaos and Complexity"
6. "Causation, Contingency, and Counterfactuals"
7. "Molecules with Minds of Their Own"
8. "Seeing Like a Historian"
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