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A broad perspective on historical thought and writing, with a new epilogue.
In this book, now published in 10 languages, a preeminent intellectual historian examines the profound changes in ideas about the nature of history and historiography. Georg G. Iggers traces the basic assumptions upon which historical research and writing have been based, and describes how the newly emerging social sciences transformed historiography following World War II. The discipline's greatest challenge may have come in the last two decades, when postmodern ideas forced a reevaluation of the relationship of historians to their subject and questioned the very possibility of objective history. Iggers sees the contemporary discipline as a hybrid, moving away from a classical, macrohistorical approach toward microhistory, cultural history, and the history of everyday life. The new epilogue, by the author, examines the movement away from postmodernism towards new social science approaches that give greater attention to cultural factors and to the problems of globalization.
Georg G Iggers —
Georg G. Iggers is an internationally recognized authority on intellectual history and comparative international historiography. He is the author of New Directions in Historiography (1975, 1985) and The German Conception of History (1968, 1983), both published by Wesleyan University Press. Iggers is Distinguished Professor of History emeritus at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Iggers, Georg G. Historiography in the twentieth century: from scientific objectivity to the postmodern challenge. Wesleyan/University Press of New England, 1997. 182p bibl index afp ISBN 0-8195-5302-6; ISBN 0-8195-6306-4 pbk. Reviewed in 1997jun CHOICE.
The 20th century has been a period of abundant theories and interpretations of history, to the point of confusion. Written by a well-known authority in the field, this book promises to treat the main trends in 20th-century historiography from the period in which historians perceived themselves as scientists (c. the 1880s) to the present, filled with the controversies triggered by postmodernism. Despite the text's brevity, it redeems this promise in an admirable manner. What can be said in that limited space about a great diversity of subjects is said well. Iggers discusses elements of the social science strain of historiography (e.g., The Annales school, the German "Historical Social Science" or Historische Sozialwissenschaft, and Marxism) and the humanities or cultural studies strain (narrative history, Alltagsgeschichte, and the linguistic turn), and maintains a mediating position in the often shrill controversies. He does not waver in his conviction that historians can make statements that connect with social and economic realities. His own preference is obviously for a historiography that has a close affinity with the social sciences and remains open to a public purpose.
Upper-division undergraduates and above. -- E. A. Breisach, Western Michigan University