In May 1997, a group of distinguished historians announced the formation of the Historical Society, an organization that sought to be free of the jargon-laden debates and political agendas that have come to characterize the profession. Eugene Genovese, Prsident of the Society, explained the commitment to form a new and genuinely diverse organization. "The Society extends from left to right and embraces people of every ideological and political tendency. The Society promotes frank debate in an atmosphere of civility, mutual respect, and common courtesy. All we require is that participants lay down plausible premises; reason logically; appeal to evidence; and prepare to exchange criticism with those who hold different points of view. Our goal: to promote an integrated history accessible to the public." From those beginnings, the Society has grown to include hundreds of members from every level of the profession, from Pulitzer-prize winning scholars to graduate students, across the ideological and political spectrum.
In this first book from the Historical Society, several founding members explore central topics within the field; the enduring value of the practice of history; the sensitive use of historical records, sources, and archives; the value of common standards; and much more. An engaging and challenging work that will appeal to scholars, students, educators, and the many public readers who have become lost in the culture wars, Reconstructing History is sure to generate the kind of civil, reasoned debate that is a foundational goal of the Historical Society.
Contributors include Walter A. McDougall, Marc Trachtenberg, Alan Charles Kors, Deborah A. Symonds, Leo P. Ribuffo, Bruce Kuklick, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Edward Berkowitz, John Patrick Diggins, John Womack, Victor Davis Hanson, Miriam R. Levin, Martin J. Sklar, Eugene D. Genovese, Daniel C. Littlefield, Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, Russell Jacoby, Rochelle Gurstein, Paul Rahe, Donald Kagan, Diane Ravitch, Sean Wilentz, Louis Ferleger and Richard H. Steckel.
"An important collection for anyone concerned about history and its place in the so-called "culture wars"." -- Religious Studies Review
"Rarely have so many distinguished American historians been collected between the covers of one relatively small book…eloquent…given the intellectual firepower of [Reconstructing History], [readers] are likely to wonder if the postmodernists have more than met their match." -- Washington Times
"Some historians on the right, on the left, and in between agree that something's been missing in the learned societies that represent their discipline. Now a new group aims to fill the gap." -- The Chronicle of Higher Education
"In short, this is a book every historian who aspires to any degree of objectivity should read. The Historical Society has shown that it can match its rhetoric with scholarship. When the organization was founded, John H. Roper of Emory University said,We simply must restore the dignity of our profession. This book has taken an important step in that direction."
"An important collection for anyone concerned about history and its place in the so-called "culture wars." -- Religious Studies Review, July 2001
Pa r t I T h e I m p e r a t i v e : T h e H i s t o r i c a l S o c i e t y a s a C r i t i q u e a n d a N e w I d e a l, P a r t II H i s t o r y a n d the C o n t e m p o r a r y I n t e l l e c t u a l M i l i e u, P a r t I I I M e d i t a t i o n s o n t h e P r a c t i c e o f H i s t o r y, P a r t IV A n E d u c a t i o n a l M i s s i o n : S t a n d a r d s f o r t h e T e a c h i n g of H i s t o r y, P a r t V H i s t o r i a n s at W o r k .