History: A Very Short Introduction

History: A Very Short Introduction

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There are many stories we can tell about the past, and we are not, perhaps, as free as we might imagine in our choice of which stories to tell, or where those stories end. John Arnold's Very Short Introduction is a stimulating essay about how we study and understand history. The book begins by inviting us to think about various questions provoked by our investigation of history, and explores the ways these questions have been answered in the past. Concepts such as causation, interpretation, and periodization, are introduced by means of concrete examples of how historians work, giving the reader a sense of the excitement of discovering not only the past, but also ourselves. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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Product details

  • Paperback | 160 pages
  • 108 x 168 x 12mm | 120g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • black and white halftones and line drawings
  • 019285352X
  • 9780192853523
  • 28,730

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Review quote

"John Arnold builds around a few glittering fragments of the past-- a medieval murderer, a 17th-century pension to an abandoned wife, a speech by a black woman born into slavery-- a whole exhibition about what history is and is not. Writing with lucidity and passion, he lays out for inspection all the ways of recounting and exploiting the past through narrative which has been used from Herodotus to Hobsbawn. His range of knowledge and interests is phenomenal, but his skills as a communicator makes his own subtle analysis of history's history as gripping as a novel."--Neal Ascherson"A stimulating and provocative introduction to one of collective humanity's most important quests-- understanding the past and its relation to the present. A vivid mix of telling examples and clear-cut analysis."--David Lowenthal, University College, London"Intriguing and original in its discussion of why history matters and what are the problems inherent in studying it. The book is admirable in being discursive and thought-provoking."--Paul Freedman, Yale University"Accessible to students and wide-ranging in content, Arnold uncovers major issues in the historical profession in a way that invites student participation."--Russ Reeves, Trinity Christian College"Exactly what I needed. Suitable for the non-major undergrad and the graduate school bound major student."--Rea Andrew Reid, Waynesburg College"This is an extremely engaging book, lively, enthusiastic and highly readable, which presents some of the fundamental problems of historical writing in a lucid and accessible manner. As an invitation to the study of history it should be difficult to resist."--Peter Burke, Emmanuel College, Cambridge"A few millenia of events, millions of transcripts tucked away, uncountable lives passed, endless stories to tell. History: where to begin? John Arnold's History: A Very Short Introduction is an excellent short answer. Lucid and thoughtfully written, it will inspire confidence in students who wish to seek their own historical answers."--Dorothy Porter, Birbeck College, London

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About John Arnold

John Arnold is Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London, specializing in the medieval period and the philosophy of history. His publications include 'Nasty Histories: Medievalism and Horror' in History and Heritage: Consuming the Past in Contemporary Culture (ed. John Arnold, K. Davies, and S. Ditchfield).

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