Telling the Truth about History

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Norton, 1994 - History - 322 pages
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We have lost our grip on historical truth. Popular films depict subterranean conspiracies that shape historical events and public knowledge of those events. Best-selling narrative histories dissolve the border between fact and fiction, allowing the author's imagination to roam freely. Influential critics dissolve the author herself into one among many sources of meaning, reducing historical knowledge to a series of texts engaged with each other, not with the past. Powerful constituencies call for histories that affirm more than inform. This new book by three of our most accomplished historians engages the various criticisms that have fragmented the authority of historical knowledge. Although acknowledging degrees of legitimacy in the criticisms, the authors launch a pragmatic response that supports the historian, as they put it, in her long climb, notebook computer in tow, up the 300 stairs to the archives in Lyon. Even if historical truth is an ever-receding goal, the effort to approach it, they show, is legitimate, worthy, and governed by agreed-upon rules. And while affirming the claims of women and ethnic minorities to a rightful place in any narrative of American history, the authors insist on the accountability of history. They outline a coherent narrative of the American past that incorporates its multicultural dimension without special pleading.

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User Review  - Kirkus

A ``late-twentieth century understanding of historical truth,'' outlined by three women historians, Appleby (History/UCLA), Hunt (History/UPenn) and Jacob (History/New School for Social Research ... Read full review

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User Review  - jkmansfield - LibraryThing

“What historians do best,” argue Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt, and Margaret Jacob in their 1995 book Telling the Truth About History, “is make connections with the past in order to illuminate the problems ... Read full review


The Heroic Model of Science
Scientific History and the Idea of Modernity
History Makes a Nation

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About the author (1994)

Joyce Oldham Appleby was born in Omaha, Nebraska on April 9, 1929. She graduated from Stanford University in 1950. She worked for the Restaurant Reporter, a trade magazine based in Beverly Hills, and later as a stringer for The Star-News, a local South Pasadena newspaper. She received a Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University. She taught at San Diego State University and at the University of California, Los Angeles. She retired from there in 2001. She wrote several books during her lifetime including Economic Thought and Ideology in 17th Century England, Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans, Capitalism and a New Social Order: The Republican Vision of the 1790s, Liberalism and Republicanism in the Historical Imagination, The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism, and Shores of Knowledge: New World Discoveries and the Scientific Imagination. She died from complications of pneumonia on December 23, 2016 at the age of 87.

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