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Fifty Key Thinkers on History (3rd Ed)
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Fifty Key Thinkers on History (3rd Ed)
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Fifty Key Thinkers on History (3rd Edition)
Marnie Hughes-Warrington, Routledge, 2015
Paperback, 350 pp.

DESCRIPTION

Fifty Key Thinkers on History is an essential guide to the most influential historians, theorists and philosophers of history. The entries offer comprehensive coverage of the long history of historiography ranging from Ancient China, Greece and Rome, through the Middle Ages to the contemporary world. This third edition has been updated throughout and features new entries on Machiavelli, Ranajit Guha, William Hardy McNeill and Niall Ferguson.

Each clear and concise essay offers a brief biographical introduction; a summary and discussion of each thinker's approach to history and how others have engaged with it; a list of their major works and a list of resources for further study.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter 1: Bede
Chapter 2: Marc Bloch
Chapter 3: Fernand Braudel
Chapter 4: E. H. Carr
Chapter 5: R. G. Collingwood
Chapter 6: Benedetto Croce
Chapter 7: Natalie Zemon Davies
Chapter 8: Christine de Pizan
Chapter 9: Wilhelm Dilthey
Chapter 10: G. R. Elton
Chapter 11: Richard J. Evans
Chapter 12: Lucien Febvre
Chapter 13: Nialll Ferguson
Chapter 14: Michel Foucault
Chapter 15: Jean Froissart
Chapter 16: Pieter Geyl
Chapter 17: Edward Gibbon
Chapter 18: Gregory of Tours
Chapter 19: Ranajit Guha
Chapter 20: G. W. F. Hegel
Chapter 21: Martin Heidegger
Chapter 22: Herodotus
Chapter 23: Eric Hobsbawn
Chapter 24: Ibu Khaldun
Chapter 25: Keith Jenkins
Chapter 26: Immanuel Kant
Chapter 27: Thomas Samuel Kuhn
Chapter 28: Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie
Chapter 29: Livy
Chapter 30: Thomas Babington Macaulay
Chapter 31: Niccolo Machiavelli
Chapter 32: William Hardy McNeill
Chapter 33: Karl Marx 
Chapter 34: Jules Michelet
Chapter 35: Theodore William Moody
Chapter 36: Friedrich Nietzsche
Chapter 37: Michael Oakeshott
Chapter 38: Polybius
Chapter 39: Leopold Von Ranke
Chapter 40: Paul Ricoeur
Chapter 41: Joan Wallach Scott
Chapter 42: Sima Qian
Chapter 43: Oswald Spengler
Chapter 44: Tacitus
Chapter 45: A. J. P. Taylor
Chapter 46: E. P. Thompson
Chapter 47: Thucydides
Chapter 48: Frederick Jackson Turner
Chapter 49: Giambattista Vico
Chapter 50: Hayden White

AUTHOR DETAILS

Marnie Hughes-Warrington is the Deputy-Vice Chancellor (Academic) at the Australian National University. She was previously Pro-Vice Chancellor at Monash University and Associate Professor in Modern History at Macquarie University, and a recognised authority in historiography. She has also taught at both the University of Oxford and the University of Washington in Seattle.



Title Reviews

Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington is Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at the Australian National University, Canberra. She is also one of HTA’s patrons and was particularly supportive of HTA’s professional learning program when she was at Macquarie University. Marnie is a recognised authority on historiography. Her publications include How Good an Historian Shall I Be?: R.G. Collingwood, the Historical Imagination and Education (2003), History Goes to the Movies: Studying History on Film (2007) and Revisionist Histories (2013).

Fifty Key Thinkers on History is the recently published third edition of a book that is obviously popular around the world. It will already be familiar to many History Extension teachers who use it as a one of their core resources. The book presents concise profiles of fifty historians, from Herodotus (c. 484 – c. 424 BCE) to Niall Ferguson (1964 – ). Each entry offers some biographical information and an outline of each thinker’s approach to history and influence. It is an ideal starting point for teachers and students seeking to equip themselves with knowledge of a broad range of historians.

On this reading I was particularly drawn to the entry on Richard Evans because of his forthcoming visit to Australia (see review below). As in all the profiles, it contains numerous quotes and observations that can be used to generate discussion. For example:
The ‘jigsaw’ we build through the close appraisal of evidence is often so complex as to defy overarching generalisations and linear narrations of causes and effects. But this does not mean that it cannot be narrated.

The Evans entry concludes with some comments about the dangers of simplistic generalisation when we attempt to categorise historians:
It is all too easy to frame Richard J. Evans as the mirror image of postmodern writers such as Keith Jenkins… To be sure, Evans does hold to the independent existence of facts … But he also holds that evidence never bears a single meaning... labelling him as an empiricist masks some of the clear differences between his views and those of other writers who are often so labelled, like E. H. Carr and Geoffrey Elton. Nor, finally, should we conclude that his practice-based historiographical writing is impoverished in comparison to that of philosophers and intellectual historians.

One of the very welcome additions to the second edition was an introductory discussion on the question ‘What is Historiography?’. While the introductory chapter in the third edition has been changed, much of the very useful discussion from the second edition remains or has been developed. The discussion about history ‘improving’ over time and the process by which it has been ‘democratised’ offers a context that may help students develop a clearer overview of historiography.

Who is in and who is out? Each edition sees newcomers and deletions from the select group of fifty. In the third edition Arnold J. Toynbee, Carl Gustav Hempel, W. H. Walsh and Cheikh Anta Diop no longer appear. The newcomers are Machiavelli, Ranajit Guha, William Hardy and Niall Ferguson.

Paul Kiem

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