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A Concise Companion to History.

A Concise Companion to History. Ulinka Rublack, editor. Oxford University Press. [pounds sterling] 25.0(1 xxiv+451 pages. ISBN 978-0-19-929121-2. This collection of sixteen essays by a team of Anglo-American academic historians looks at the writing of history by British, North American and European historians - what one could call the NATO school of history. It reflects the current apologetic tone taken when discussing peoples and histories not from this area or, as the editor puts it. 'during the twentieth century, traditional concepts of objectivity and narratives of Western exceplionalism have been forcefully challenged'. The writing is high-minded and often packed with the current 'buxz words' or learned slang of the educated minority. It seeks to make readers 'rethink history'. The first four essays, grouped as 'Writing History' look at causation, the status of historical knowledge, historians from Herodotus to the present and major themes in world history since 1700. The second part, with twelve contributions, looks at 'themes and structures': commerce, power, communication, population, gender, culture, ethnicity, science, environmental history, religion (by Miri Rubin and arguably the best informed contribution), emotions and the 'power of ideas'. This is much food for thought as well as a fair amount of fashionable verbiage. (E.B.)
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Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2011
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