Originally published in 1967, this book analyses the method by which historical evidence is built up and compares the nature of historical proof with that of other disciplines such as the law and natural sciences. It examines an extraordinary series of forgeries and distortions from the False Decretals to the biographies of Lytton Strachey, as well as discussing how an historical reputation such as that enjoyed by Judge Jefferies was created.
Part 1: The Power of History 1. What Shall be Called History? 2. The Dangers of History and their Cure Part 2: The Methods of History 3. History and the Law Courts: Two Standards of Proof 4. History and the Natural Sciences 5. History and the Historian Part 3: The Facts 6. The Framework of Fact: Interpretations and Legends 7. Observation and Inference: Direct and Indirect Evidence 8. Documents Genuine and Spurious 9. The Intermediaries 10. The Scholarly Attitude Part 4: Groups in History 11. Generic Statements 12. The Evidence for Generic Statements – Myths, Impressions and Quantification. Conclusion: The Critical Historian