General History
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 4720
Joined: 2004
What Becomes History
4/30/2022 9:15:18 PM
Stumbled across an essay by Louis Menand, which appeared in the 18 April 2022 issue of “New Yorker”. The essay is titled “The People Who Decide What Becomes History”, and is dated 11 April 2022. I offer this in case my link doesn’t work or hits a paywall.

I note this essay in particular as a good read at an appropriate time because it deals inherently with issues we are all facing right now, given the events in Ukraine. It also raises issues I struggle with as I read and participate in history through forums such as MHO. I am personally less than convinced that modern history writing procedures are helpful, in that I do not believe every sentence needs authentication, backup or notation before it can be accepted. If anything, I believe that reliance on notation leads to either sterility or stagnation in history.

The (sorta) subtitle of the essay is: “However fastidious they may be about facts, historians are engaged in storytelling, not science.” I’m pretty comfortable with that, in that history is in fact a continuous flow of events which must be both assessed and brought under control in order to bring order out of chaos. It’s interesting that the essay begins with comments from Edward Gibbon, often called the Father of Modern History for his massive Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, published between 1776 and 1778. His work broke a tradition of history dating back to the Greeks. That he accomplished such a feat at the time he was writing (1776-1788) becomes in itself an historical challenge, or could be considered so when studying the rebellion in the 13 Colonies.

At any rate, here’s the link: hope it works.

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Brian G
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 6386
Joined: 2004
What Becomes History
5/1/2022 5:04:25 AM
Yes, the link works, Brian, and damned interesting it is too !

Let’s hope that our friends on MHO read it. Great stuff for discussion.

Regards, Phil
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
St. Louis MO USA
Posts: 1892
Joined: 2010
What Becomes History
5/1/2022 6:23:00 AM
Every time someone asks me "what is history" I reply "to whom?" I look at people and how they handle events. (Bachelors in Soc. and Psych., Masters in History, all at Purdue. (Best fourteen years of my life.))

Sunnyvale CA USA
Posts: 1
Joined: 2022
What Becomes History
10/14/2022 5:52:30 AM
Thank you Brian
The link works properly. Thank you so much for sharing.

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