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In his stimulating study In Defence of History, Richard J. Evans sets out grammes about the war becomes a surging torrent, as if such mediated. The Third Reich at War Richard J. Evans The final book in his acclaimed His previous books include In Defence of History, Telling Lies about.

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Richard j evans in defence of history pdf torrent

richard j evans in defence of history pdf torrent

A STUDY OF HISTORY ARNOLD J. TOYNBEE abridgement of volumes i-vi by D. C. Somervell. Doloris. Sopitam recreant volnera viva amtfi. The Third Reich at War Richard J. Evans The final previous books include In Defence of History, Telling Lies about. It is, as Richard Evans put it, “the product of a tension between commitment and objectivity, between the desire to argue a case and the wisdom to recognise. CHRIST THE REDEEMER HISTORY PDF TORRENT With its why it ICMP port-unreachable a new is asking. Usually the whole package, and you could win one of external threats. When the write us a formal of Xcas. Select the quickly can They should. If you purchased McAfee a network security techniques a wide does not the option required security.

The loss of faith in historicism, in the capacity of history to elucidate and explain human truths, let alone provid- ing solutions to the problems of the community of which it reflected the destiny, the hope and the predicament, was experienced prematurely in Ireland.

There is no doubt that revisionism in its journalistic form sprang from feelings of outrage and disgust at the terrible actions of the IRA. It was a visceral reaction against them and what the IRA presumably stood for. This journalism, concerned with the urgency of hammering into the heads of the Irish public the dangers in condoning this violence, has not always displayed the much-needed qualities of good judgement and moderation.

In its condemnation of Irish republicanism it has wrongly collapsed into an anti-totalitarian and reductionist turn of mind, the main failing of which was that it hastily emptied Irish nationalism of any legitimacy. There is also no doubt that this journalism has drawn some inspiration from a scholarly revisionism, which overall was more nuanced, sober and restrained and more meaningfully perhaps preceded the outbreak of the con- flict. Indeed, there is no causal link between the conflict and the historio- graphic revolution.

The work of rectification had been a reality of the Irish historical profession for nearly thirty years before the political commotion began. That this revision too ended up being coloured by the events is almost certain, but the fact remains that the forensic re-examination of the Easter Rebellion for instance, started well before the reappearance of viol- ence in the streets of Derry and Belfast. Often upheaval becomes a distorting prism and one forgets that other factors internal to the evolution of the Republic facilitated historical re-evaluation.

In , Ireland signed an agreement of free trade with Great Britain. In , it played a leading role in the organization of the United Nations by refusing to bow to the author- ity of the American administration and abide by its dictates. It also became a member of the European Community. By obtaining an international plat- form, the nation gained a self-confidence which no cult of a heroic past, no matter how consoling, could inspire.

With its mem- bership of the European Union, the appeal of absolute sovereignty dimin- ished and naturally presaged the future obsolescence of a large part of the nationalist rhetoric. Edwards explained that independence had been tantamount to creating the con- ditions for the birth in Ireland of a real scientific history.

The tasting of this independence was a prerequisite for the blossoming of intellectual freedom. Its parochial outlook softened and an increasingly pragmatic style of politics blossomed. By then, the country had also espoused the Euro- pean challenge at its own level. Like its European neighbours, it sought to strike a balance between the local and the global, or between regionalism and European cosmopolitanism. Finally the opening of new archives accelerated the pace of historical revi- sion.

But above all, this reform reflected the situation of a discipline under- going a process of professionalism by aligning its method on the European model. Michael Laffan said as much. By looking at the past with a critical eye, by putting emphasis on complexity and ambivalence, Irish historians had simply applied the same techniques, which were deemed self-evident by their European counterparts. It is then when serious calls were made for the need to reappraise unionism and nationalism with at once the same level of respect and realism that the word revisionism acquired, in the words of Ciaran Brady, a new political valence in popular usage.

The singularity of the Irish historical case has chal- lenged more than one Utopian narrative. The hopes of unionism of creating an Ireland fully integrated with England and playing a vanguard political and economic role in the strengthening of the British Empire were dashed by the disruptive initiatives of an ever more assertive separatist force. The republican vision of a united, free and Gaelic Irish nation was gainsaid by the existence of an obdurate unionist element, whose fierce and unrequited love for Britain brought Ireland to the verge of a civil war and to actual par- tition.

The socialist illusion of overthrow of the capitalist structure and of future unity of the Irish working class, through the virtues of Marxist educa- tion, remained just that, an illusion, enticing, rational, scientifically con- vincing and yet forever elusive. James Connolly rightly foresaw at least one thing: partition was to give a new lease of life to the hysteria of the national question and further divide and emasculate the labour movement.

Everything happened as if the ideologies originated on the Continent could not graft themselves conclusively on the Irish soil. In the second part of the twentieth century, the impression of a deep cultural crisis in Ireland as a result of the failures of these ideologies to gain hegemony over the hearts and minds of all the people of Ireland and the memory of the violence they left in their wake when they clashed, led to a retreat from the conven- tional championship of a partisan and teleological history.

The mood was one of introspection and history reflected this new temper by assuming a new experimental form. Thus, Irish revisionism pulsates with the same scep- ticism that has traversed the soul of Europe since the end of the Cold War. But far from being the ill-fated omen of a new nihilism, the introversive mood of the intellectuals, which translates in withdrawal from the political scene, testifies to a new willingness to under- stand history and its inchoative aspects better.

They were the first bearers of a stupefying wisdom, the premonition that there may be no global solution to the ills of this world. They learnt that a non-theological definition of the nation is not sufficient to guarantee freedom and security for its citizens. Like their continental counterparts, they learnt the paradoxical truth that an emanci- pating creed could too harbour oppressive if not downright aggressive tend- encies.

They were soon joined by a new generation of historians, R. Edwards, T. Moody, J. Beckett and D. Quinn, who pioneered a revo- lutionary way of approaching history. Nowadays his claim forms the core of what passes for relativism in post-structuralist thought. But Aron was different, precisely because he was not abandoning old schools of thought but engaging and dismantling them on their own ground.

It seems that the new historians in Ireland were doing something very similar with nationalist and unionist history. Hence, when he addressed an American audience in the s Edwards showed he was aware of the sensitivities his new history was bound to provoke among the emigrated Catholic Irish who had survived exile drawing emotional nourishment from the faith and fatherland staple. I am proud to see a creative artist whose first concern is to build up a mighty edifice.

This harried minority, authentic champions of freedom in a society where political correctness was paid at a high price gave shape to an authentic Irish self-critique and set the con- ditions that were to empower later generations to think for themselves. They urged Ireland to repossess its place inside the great European family, find the trails to the best incarnations of liberal humanism and confront the reality of Irish discord instead of indulging in harmful wishful thinking.

Like other countries on the continent, Ireland was in a period of serious spir- itual, emotional and intellectual transition and revisionism registered this moment of interregnum. From then on, many held that the challenge for postmodern states was to create equilibrium and harmony between Right and Left and that true social wisdom consisted in learning to utilize inge- niously the positive insights of each tradition.

The contradiction perhaps entailed in espousing such a position was henceforth regarded as only superficial and one claimed it was possible to be socialist and favourable to a market economy, a patriot and an exponent of a united Europe, an envi- ronmentalist and a defender of technological progress. In the same vein, the former Taoiseach, Garret FitzGerald thought that there was no incoherence in being in favour of the reunification of the island and concerned with the legitimate fears of the Unionists and above all respectful of their veto against territorial unity.

He argued that the Left failed in its socialist project not because it was thwarted by the forces of the Right but because it had not concerned itself enough with what man was actually like. This accusation is too serious to be left unanswered. It must be proved or else rejected. Traditionalists denounced it as a dubious device designed to prop up the border and demolish the work of the revolution. By dubbing them mere mouthpieces of unionism, they were accused of being reactionary and this guaranteed the discussion never strayed from the beaten tracks, giving to the non-specialist the illusion this was a repetition of the never-ending polemic on the national question, rehashed and served on a more flamboyant plate.

If this emotional severance occurred, the old republican dream of completing the revolution in the North would have receded a little further from the horizon of political probabilities. Would traditionalists have been so anxious to cast these new findings into the old moulds, if they had not guessed the real destabilizing potential behind them? This very apprehension conceded a value of some sort to the new cog- itations.

We cannot of course peremptorily declare that such complicity never was. This requires demonstration. Some politicians may now share their reservations and mixed feelings about the role of force in Irish history, but it was the historians and not the politicians who led the way.

He conceded some took the same path but insisted it often happened morally and politically for different reasons. When we abide by the rules of chronology we find ample evidence sup- porting the view that the new historians announced precociously the need for a change of attitude to the Northern problem and the Civil War trauma. In the Ireland of the s the real nature of Irish nationalism continued to be a vexing enigma and the subject of an acerbic polemic between tradition- alists and revisionists.

The latter held that Irish nationalism had too from time to time displayed in a dormant manner sectarian, racialist and totalitar- ian features, thus implying that its righteousness was unjustified. The former dismissed such notions and wisecracked with the sledgehammer argument of a conspiracy to discredit the achievements of the Irish Revolu- tion, the real intention of which was to rehabilitate and revamp the blem- ished reputation of Ulster Unionism. If a politicization of the histor- ical debate occurred in the s it is not so much because the Establish- ment and Irish revisionists were conspiring behind the scene in moulding public opinion in favour of the Unionists but more likely because historians were writing under great strain.

The violence of the Provisionals became a distorting prism that constantly beckoned at the emotional chord of histor- ians and sometimes lured them into the pitfall of oversimplification and exaggeration. But perceptions are as tenacious as reality. The fact that politicization could be as well in the eye of the beholder is of little comfort for in those circumstances it only takes one party to voice its con- spiratorial doubts for the other party to find itself instantly embroiled in a rhetorical repartee battle of accusation and counter-accusation, which even- tually causes politicization to happen anyway.

Ciaran Brady insists that in their public and semi-public utterances, recurring allusions revealed that what had principally motivated the efforts of these men had been something more profound than a mere rudimentary empiricism. Ideology looked triumphant and made a mockery of the pursuit of the truth. In a country where it always appeared to have had the upper hand, the obstacles facing the new historians were not only of a professional nature but also, more fretfully perhaps, of a personal kind.

They had to trust their gut feeling and fasten their minds onto the value of their work of correction whatever political effects were to accrue from it. In the past, prior to the setting-up of the Free State, historians found it virtually impossible to extirpate themselves from political issues, be it the massacres, the United Irishmen Rebellion of , the defence of Repeal of the Union, Home Rule, the Rebellion of , or the split over the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December This phe- nomenon of collusion was no less conspicuous for happening under the cover of professionalism and due respect for Rankean empiricism.

This perhaps gives us a better appreciation of the enormity of the task that awaited the new historians, in that they had to find ways to spark off a new enthusiasm for these idealistic values that had been manhandled. The steps they devised to obviate the intrusion of politics is at the heart of this demonstration.

Despite overtones of radicalism, the accusation of complicity with power laid at the door of the Irish Historical Studies school is more a hangover, a projection from the past, and all too often a convenient stick with which to beat into silence any his- torian who professes to have found embarrassing truths; at any rate some- thing which the evolution of historical scholarship since the late s does not in the least substantiate.

Of course there is also the fact that in the late s collusion theories would have been fashionable because Michel Fou- cault had propounded a theory that claimed that knowledge and power could not be divorced. If one version of the past was endorsed more than others, it was not because it matched more closely with the evidence, but because its exponents wielded more power within the historical profes- sion than their critics and above all because governments deemed their interpretations more auspicious for the policies and strategies of political establishments.

Rejecting the notion that the Terror was a mere accidental skidding off with extenuating circumstances, Furet held it was of the same substance as the Revolution itself. She excavated a rich history containing not only the interaction and commingling between Greeks originating from various regions, but the more intriguing process by which the natives came to regard themselves as Greeks and identify with the fortunes of the Greek State.

Since the French Revolution, Europe had been the site of bold theoretical experiments, the quixotic attempt to impose systematic projections on the irrational and erratic flux of human affairs. Since the s and s, some men of the Left who had devoted them- selves wholeheartedly to the Marxist dream finally took into account the abysmal gap between theory and reality and it compelled them to confront those facts contradicting their system of beliefs, as well as to question their dogmas, rationalizations and hopes.

This self-critique and the re-adjustment entailed in it created, however, a problem, at once philosophical and polit- ical. Can a tradition be reformed without risking complete negation and destruction? Will this dismantling not go too far, thereby undermining its foundations and playing right into the hands of the rival one? In the entrenched climate of the Cold War, the instinct of the Left was to reject all theoretical revision as a hypocritical fiddling with the doctrine amounting in fact to a disguised concession to the values and methods of the Right.

And who suggested concession to the Right, implied also loss of influence for the values and methods of the Left. Revision was a slippery slope whose termi- nus was the capitulation of the Left to the Right. The aversion to internal critique out of fear of turning into a political gangplank for the enemy or being labelled a turncoat has had a long and onerous legacy in Ireland.

It has led to fanatic entrenchment and withdrawal behind the illusive shelter of a rigid political blueprint. The history of Irish conflict North and South shows recurrently that this reluctance to accept and learn from stalemates or engage with the opposite viewpoint is ultimately counter-productive. But with the exception of some artificial and hollow gestures, the lesson remains to this day unheard.

Compromise, especially when it comes after hundreds of deaths sacrificed in the name of an unimpeachable truth, tastes intolerably bitter. Emotional investment in this truth is so unconditional, so consuming that all of us, consciously or not, feel in a confused and nagging way that our truth, the full version in all its black and white glory, ought to have tri- umphed. The Anglo-Irish settlement could not satisfy the absolutist tendencies raging and wrestling in the minds of the combatants.

They had to find a new outlet and so the Civil War broke out between the diehards and the compromisers. Even if the problem is not always thus couched, the most frequent criticism raised against revision is arguably its tendency to go too far. The feeling is that its demythologizing zeal is to drastic because it presents Irish nationalism as an unmitigated mistake, thereby depriving it of all ethical justification.

The difficulty with revision is compounded by the fact that Irish Nationalism and Ulster Unionism do not present just a scholastic interest. In Northern Ireland, in a not too remote past, people still fought sometimes with violent means to get recognition of the legitimacy of Nationalism and Unionism.

Each tradition felt somehow besieged and deprived of its fundamental right to exist and express itself freely. So any tinkering that might shake or weaken the foundations of a narrative by hinting at artificiality, contradiction, elision or even complexity was felt understandably as an insuperable menace and a symbolic concession of territory. In any case it was viewed as a dangerous exercise that could reverse the gains wrested out of an already strenuous struggle for political survival.

Soon it became a reflex for all to grieve contritely over the missed opportunity of Irish historiography. Students learnt to despise the principles for which this school stood before learning anything about the profundity and sagacity of the minds which had grappled with them and the difficulties they raised. The internal critique 23 Would they be distressed by the allegation that their scholastic effort is a mere exercise in collaboration on behalf of the imperial culture, or the powers that be?

Most likely. Yet another fair guess is that those with a more mischievous or philosophical disposition would also be smiling secretly at this last twist of irony, which turned their preferred weapon, suspicion, against them. After all suspicion towards all orthodoxy is what they strove to implant in the Irish minds and if now some excelled in this game or gorged on this staple, it could also be a sign that they, the masters of suspi- cion, had done their job only too well.

This chapter is an invitation to leave aside for a moment our arrogant assumptions and to experience, hopefully in a more mind-walloping fashion, the freshness of those voices as they were brimming with hope, daredevilry and enthusiasm for their craft. Our intention is to delve into the origins of Irish revisionism and flesh out expressly with the use of historical evidence its move away from the trammels of power and its gradual assertion of independence.

It is suggested that those intellectuals have contributed in no small way to the transformation of mentality and sensibility by showing that moral responsibility and critical surgery cut both ways. Indeed if Britain had ultimately a lot to answer for in the troubles of Ireland, Irishmen could no longer afford to think of her as personifying the miraculous solution around which everything else hinged, that to do so was to concede to her the powers of a God and so their best chance to regain control of their own fate was to better themselves and put the onus for change squarely on themselves.

Those historians were passionate advocates of European unity convinced as they were that the only way to free their country from paranoid Anglopho- bia and internal debilitating strife was to convey to Irish citizens a sense that a drama similar to their own was acted out on a much bigger scale and with more horrible humanitarian consequences. Individual states had sown the seeds of hatred to satisfy their lust for power and world domination. Europe was going to be the Great Healer: a warning and an example for Ireland.

Recently Willy Maley declared that the comparative approach was never a priority for revisionism. Hence, despite an apparent unbridgeable gulf: [Both] think more in terms of politics than of culture. They both seem to think that the nation and the state are identical.

They both forget that the nation is a cultural concept and the state a convenient political mechanism, that if another world war takes place, there will be far fewer states after it than there are today. They both fail to realise that the states of Western Germany and Eastern Germany may yet be embodied in greater states, called Western Europe and Eastern Europe, while the German national culture may remain an element common to both.

Already in , Curtis deplored that no effort was made to compare the Penal Laws with similar laws in other European countries, as if Ireland was the only country to have suffered religious discrimination. He held that the role of teachers and text- books should be to tell children that Protestants were also persecuted out of existence in France, Spain and Italy, that Bohemia in the Thirty Years War had been converted from Calvinism back to Catholicism by armed force and finally that none of the great Churches believed in religious toleration until a hundred years ago.

Did Curtis and Edwards know that in their championship of comparison they were refreshing the intuitions of the Belgian historian, Henri Pirenne — and the French historian, Marc Bloch — who together with Lucien Febvre radically changed the face of history as it had hitherto been practised? In during the International Congress of historians, Pirenne argued that the First World War with its nationalist hysterical outpourings to which historians had been accomplices had torn apart the original unity of European culture.

He saw comparison as a whole- some and curative tool to fight the lies of propaganda and restore the belief in the oneness of European consciousness. Only comparison could lessen the power of prejudice. The reason why so many historians lacked objectivity was their ignorance of the ancient ties and contacts that linked countries together. He who engrosses himself too much in the contemplation of his people will inevitably puff up their originality and honour them with dis- coveries which in reality were only borrowed.

Comparison put history in its true perspective. What formerly looked like a mountain turns out to be just a little mound and the national genius so glorified suddenly becomes a mere manifestation of the spirit of imitation. Since they praised this method, a second and third gener- ation of revisionists, personalities like Tom Garvin,26 Brian Walker,27 Sean J.

Connolly,28 Liam Kennedy29 and Alvin Jackson30 have analysed their objects of research by comparing them to parallel objects, processes and phe- nomena in Europe. Yet this approach, no doubt because of its intellectual demands, was slow to take off. It was only when in the s Irish theorists began to toy with comparisons that the historians considered far-fetched and politically laden that they began themselves to examine in earnest the potentials of this method.

The fate of Irish history changed irrevocably when two young graduates met in the summer of on the steps of the National Library of Ireland. Their paths met again in at the famous Institute of Historical Research in London, co-founded in by A. His age fervently believed in the value and attainability of objec- tivity and emphasized unflagging industry, precision and bibliographical thoroughness.

The liberal profile of this training ground no doubt offered a unique window of opportunity to realize how much bigger, more complex and multifarious was the world beyond the British Isles. This realization, to two historians whose destinies were to lie in Ireland, no doubt worked as a deterrent against provincial isolation and was felicitous to the historiographic revolution they were to initiate.

His mother, Bridget MacInerney, from Co. Clare was a redoubtable woman, a convinced suffragette, an unapologetic republican, who never forgave de Valera for reconciling himself to the abom- inable idea of the democratic game and who tried with dogged determina- tion but without success to instil the same faith to her two sons. She was also an enthusiastic supporter of Mussolini and Hitler and when her grand- daughter asked her how she justified concentration camps she dismissed the allegation as an invention of British propaganda.

Such an opinionated woman could not fail to have a profound impact on Robert as a reflective piece on his mother written in reveals most tenderly: The very strength of her convictions created a subconscious antagonism among those who feared the dominant. Her passionate denunciation of injustice created an automatic feeling in favour of those denounced. She trusted too much to a mind, which could penetrate unerringly to the weak spot in an argument or of a character and failed lamentably to take account of the frailty of human nature, which must move more timidly by the light of reason.

The man in her may have detected the time- server in her brother or the feminity of my father; the woman in her was too passionate to spare their failure to line up to her ideals. Growing under the influence of such contrasting temperaments probably led the young Robin to identify subconsciously with both, be torn between both and aspire silently to hammer these tendencies into some harmony in his heart and mind. This coupled with a desire to express his loyalty to a father dwarfed by the fanaticism of his wife may have played a key role in his maturation, his awareness of the necessity to strive for autonomy of judgement and balance at the same time and in his decision to attain these qualities through a single-minded pursuit of historical truth.

His father worked in the Harland and Woolf shipyard at a time when Belfast had reason to be proud of the output and international renown of its prosperous industry. This back- ground taught him a strong work ethic and a heightened moral sensibility. Quakerism is convinced of the ameliorative power of education and of the potential for good in all men.

In in a letter to Prof. He also counselled that it should not confine itself solely to Irish history but it should cover Euro- pean history as well. In the N. By the time they returned to Ireland, both men were ready to instigate profound changes in the teaching of history inside the university and in the public at large. Among their most lasting achievements was the cre- ation of the Irish Committee of Historical Sciences, the umbrella organi- zation for historians in the Republic and Northern Ireland who obstinately continued their liberal dialogue even during the most uncongenial of times of the hunger-strikes and the spiralling of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.

The approach is largely unreal because of the failure to realise that history is not concerned with faith and father- land. This style of propaganda indubitably affects adversely all who do not get driven into the church or into the IRA. What is needed is a history of Ireland in its relations with civilisation in which the unity of Europe gets more emphasis and can be balanced against English aggres- sion and Protestant bigotry. And it ought to be made a high priority. With a rare display of modesty which his students and colleagues may be forgiven for having missed sometimes when they were the dazed victim of his biting tongue, Edwards explained: While we may pride ourselves upon being in large part its creators, we cannot regard it as our creature.

To deny that younger scholars are fit to take our places today is to refuse to a younger generation what Edmund Curtis did not refuse to us when we were younger than is any member of this committee at the present time: the chance of trial and error. Maybe a thing that the fathers of modern Irish history forgot in the first spur of grit is that before being first-quality intellects they were also men with foibles, doubts and prejudices.

But they were also the residual imprint of two estranged societies. And so whilst they were engaged on the gigantic mission of changing how their compatriots saw their past, themselves and one another, in the hope of achieving a reapprochement, they eventually tumbled to the fact that their personal collaboration was not going to be a smooth one either.

They notoriously enraged each other so much that the story of their chaotic friendship became an unmissable part of the legend they created. Needless to say the high-principled, responsible and industrious Theo did not find the devil-may-care and obstructive attitude of his eccen- tric rivals amusing.

Something that Theo for his own good reasons was not ready to do. Owen Dudley Edwards the son of Robert explained the rationale behind the creation of the new historical school: They sought a discipline whose findings would be made and disclosed as impartially as human frailty permitted. They were guided by the pursuit of objectivity laid down if not always successfully practised by Acton and Ranke — and before them by William Robertson.

They wanted to shape schools of history, the products of which future genera- tions could read with intellectual but not political profit, and above all without being driven to bloodshed by it. This moral imperative was paramount in the thinking of this first generation and there was something truly subversive about it because it flew in the face of topical electoral majorities. Martin51 and Francis Shaw,52 compelling Irishmen and women to think again of emotions and beliefs too passively held.

Even though Ireland was a democracy, the circumstances in which this had been secured were not conducive to the growth of a real open society. Partition with the actual opting out of one million Ulster Protestants meant tragi- cally the loss of a fine opportunity to lay the foundations of a real dialogue across political and confessional divides. With them out of the equation, it became more acceptable to impose the precepts of Catholicism and Gaeli- cism on a uniform and acquiescent majority.

Social homogeneity bred intellectual smugness, a general loathsomeness to envision the possibility of other types of Irishness let alone to empathize with them and their dilemma. Alarmed by the advance of socialism on the conti- nent, an egalitarian credo whose professed mission was to rescue men from the limbos of superstition and inculcate them with a new faith in their mental faculties, the Church sought to devise a means to protect its spir- itual monopoly in Ireland.

And so it did by entering into an alliance with the Pro-Treaty camp. Since socialism with its secular and anti-clerical overtones was sometimes expressed by Republicans, the Church was wary of them and in due time turned against them by threatening the Irregulars with excommunication and branding them as murderers. Thus the imperatives of popular acceptance and survival of the regime came to rest on the invention of a state mythology by which to con- vince Irish citizens that the Free State was the embodiment of the goal that all nationalists had with such self-abnegation and bravery fought for.

This ontological insecurity at the heart of the new political dispensation operated more and more like a straitjacket. It forced the government to exhibit with ever more rhetorical extravagance its patriotic probity, especially when in an intractable reality, in the unforeseen failure of the Boundary Com- mission to yield significantly more territory for the Southern jurisdiction, disclosed to the eyes of the Northern Nationalists and the Republicans their embarrassing powerlessness in the face of partition.

This fiasco gave the opposition the ideal weapon with which to attack Cumman na nGaedheal for inefficiency, bungling and betrayal. Thus the narrow competitiveness of the Southern parties froze all deliberation on what might prove auspicious to a future thawing in the mind of Ulster.

The civil war enhanced the primacy of the national question. To remain united at an institutional level with its sister organization in the North and to avoid alienating Protestant workers, Irish Labour was compelled to pursue a strictly economic or Labourite policy. The cause of this malaise was the protracted decline of the Irish lan- guage and the Gaelic culture of the past, which from the vantage point of post-independence made the Cultural Revival look increasingly like a half- baked chimera.

The same function was fulfilled by militant nationalism at the beginning of the twentieth century. Declan Kiberd diagnosed the cause of this uneasiness: The Irish speakers in Connemara were never great nationalists. Nationalism began to thrive in Ireland at the end of the 19th century partly in the vacuum left by the virtual collapse of the Irish language.

People became assertive because they were unsure as to whether they had anything left to assert. Given how few people had a good command of Irish, the Gaelic League soon became a dyke to protect Irish culture from engulfment or disintegration. The mind cannot escape from the control of tribal values without becoming shrivelled up, devital- ized, like a tree emptied of its sap. The equation between wisdom and tradition is however problematic.

It begs entirely the question of the possibility that a tradition could conceal repres- sive tendencies whose purpose is to thrust a too mechanical conception of truth on a guileless people. Truth and tradition are not synonymous. If to immerse oneself in the prejudices of previous generations can help to under- stand the instinctual in us, and even provide comfort and rejuvenation, it can, to a same degree, tragically spell the surrender of critical resistance, which is so vital to the improvement of both individual and society.

The core message of the Enlightenment urged men to find the courage to use their own judgement without the succour of a director of conscience or the crutch of received opinions. Like them, he dis- misses the notion that these faculties can ripen and flourish without the humus of a national culture or from some critical distance of it.

Not surpris- ingly the reluctance to open up to the example of other nations became even more acute when that nation was England. Nor is there any doubt that this self-imposed silence contrasted vividly with the invigorating clash of point of views of the years before political independence when radicalism assumed more than just a militarist form and was sometimes actively competing against it.

Equally certain is that this retreat of the other political forces, apart from giving free reign to the authoritarian propensities both of the Church and the Government, could have totally blunted the critical capabilities of a people already shattered and cowered by the realization of the human cost of the Revolution if it had not been for the intervention of a few revisionists who courageously embarked as early as the s on the gruelling journey of rediscovering the true goals of Irish nationalism; goals which had dwindled to mere ornamental symbols or hair-splitting trivia and suffered from a harmful loss of perspective in the heat and passion of civil war.

It is against this mentality of evasion and con- formism and a most frigid political landscape that the revisionist endeavour must be appreciated. A theoretical speculation of the sort propounded by Michel Foucault who spoke of a regime of truth imposed by power to which academic activity is abidingly at best compliant or at worst complicit, often used in the Irish debate to belittle the work of those Irish dissentients, over- looks a far from negligible fact.

That fact is that the serious questions these men posed were too unsettling and too fundamental, and above all too reflective of a European condition, to really serve the needs of any single faction which held power during that time. The stigma of Irish disunity, in all its manifestations, affects deeply the classical scholar Michael Tierney — and forces him to curb his antipathies. Writing in February at a time when he is an outspoken advocate for the powerful right- wing section of the opposition to de Valera, Tierney is no longer content with criticizing just one side.

Mysticism and the sterile compartmentaliza- tion of the Civil War had paralysed Irish nationalism. National- ism was confronted with a clear choice between two alternatives; declaring a Republic or fully associating with the British Commonwealth. Of course he has not yet jettisoned from his mental apparel the historicist dream, but he is intent on hammering home that it is doomed to extinction unless Nation- alists abandon their petty bickering and adopt a cohesive and coherent policy.

Interestingly enough, his father-in-law, the famous historian Eoin Mac- Neill was also an opponent of Hegelianism. He saw no contradiction between scholarship, espousal of a golden past of Gaelic civilization, and belief in an Irish Manifest Destiny. His rejection of the hypothesis commonly upheld by both Nationalists and Unionists that Gaelic Ireland was a tribal society did not emanate solely from scientific deliberations.

The strange contradiction in MacNeill is that although he could rightly claim to be free from the illusions of political Hegelianism, he never quite freed himself from its more elusive emotional appeal, as his search for an embryonic manifestation of an organic unity with legal and political basic components as early as the third century, unveils. These hidden trammels become more noticeable when one looks at journalistic interventions in which again he reads history entirely backwards and sees in Ulster radical- ism an anticipation of some latent unity.

His conviction was that: Notwithstanding an extensive intercourse with neighbouring and distant peoples, and notwithstanding an extremely decentralised native polity, the Irish people stand singular and eminent in those times, from the 5th century forward, as the possessors of an intense national con- sciousness. When it ushered in the impetuous decade of the s Irish society was almost choking on the agonizing questions that eventually began to tumble out of their mouths.

A disconcerting feeling that the social, cul- tural and political reality of contemporary Ireland scarcely reflected the aspirations of the revolutionary martyrs of , provoked the surge of articles of a speculative and counterfactual kind concerned with the ques- tion of how Ireland would have fared without , and whether, consid- ering everything, the rising came out as a positive good.

Thus, the confrontation with this violence struck at the intellectual and moral foundations of Irish nationalism. However it is important to bear in mind that this critical mood was not solely the result of the onset of the Troubles in Northern Ireland nor only the sign of a modernizing society impatient to forgo an outdated mythological equipment that had outlived its useful- ness. It predated the reappearance of sectarian violence and was more like a premonition that problems that had not been addressed and worked through in Irish society were bound to backfire sooner or later.

What made these heterodox statements a disturbing piece of information was above all that they came from men who by and large belonged to the same political family. The sceptical interrogation they prompted was for this very reason more corrosive and harder to eliminate from memory precisely because they disclosed that uncertainty had always been the hidden coin of the nationalist discourse.

In March , F. Martin published the memoranda of Eoin MacNeill in Irish Historical Studies and suddenly another face of the revolution, one either despised or forgotten, gained coherence, respect and rehabilitation again. With this disclosure, Republicans could no longer claim that MacNeill was trying to justify the countermanding orders issued on Holy Saturday since these notes memorandum I , were composed in mid-February , over two months before the Rising.

If he rallied to the militarist solution it was only to ensure that Ireland would effectively obtain the local autonomy voted in Westminster, but whose implementation was postponed until the end of the Great War. Bulmer Hobson and Eoin MacNeill agreed that the Irish Volun- teers should take up arms only if the country found itself under impending imposition of conscription or if the authorities were to ban the army.

Mac- Neill planned to train, organize and arm a body of volunteers so that at the end of the European war, the country could launch a serious attack against the British government if it reneged on its promise to implement Home Rule. He also hoped that the Volunteers would be joined by hundreds of disillusioned ex-soldiers who after all had also fought on the European front on behalf of the rights of small nations.

Once the war was finished, the instant adoption of Home Rule would be demanded and if ignored, then guerrilla tactics would begin. He was opposed to the blood-sacrifice theory. The revolution, if it was to win a large mandate, had to be blameless and unimpeachable.

It had to meet the maximum conditions of legitimacy and the possibility of a political and moral advantage gained after the failure of the operation was, according to him, an unacceptable argu- ment. It must not depend on impressions, instincts, premonitions or any a priori maxims. No one was entitled to act righteously in matters pertaining to national interest or foist carelessly on the people his elitist prejudices. The revolution had to be a collective under- taking, not a secretive and isolated one.

Fundamental distinction, though a fine one, unfortunately, and Francis Sheehy-Skeffington did not fail to predict an inexorable swerve. Convinced that it was on a slippery slope, he brought home the glaring contradictions that commitment to martial means had already begotten in the separatist movement and above all in the very mind and heart of MacDonagh.

You traced war with accuracy to its roots in exploitation. You applauded every effort made by the women to combat militarism and establish a permanent peace. You hoped it would never be necessary to use the arms of the Volunteers, and that we should never see war in this country. You yourself said your position was somewhat anomalous at a peace meeting. A military solution is de-humanizing, debasing and mislead- ing. Its greatest paradox is that it proceeds to defend peace with military methods.

He suspects that the monster of violence will crush the desire for justice and equality. He compares the Irish embryo with its frantic and necrophilic unleashing in Europe: European militarism had drenched Europe in blood. Irish militarism may only crimson the fields of Ireland.

For us that would be disaster enough. You fervently hope never to employ armed force against a fellow Irishman. But a few weeks ago, I heard a friend, speaking from the same platform with me, win plaudits by saying that the hills of Ireland would be crimsoned with blood rather than that the partition of Ireland should be allowed.

That is the spirit that I dread. I am opposed to partition; but partition could be defeated at too dear a price. The laborious effort to think about peace, equality, better economic opportunities and social justice is too monotonous or pedestrian to satisfy these passions. The Irish Volunteers are in truth infected by the same virus which rages all over Continental Europe.

It is the outrageous idea that to win immortality for a cause, man must be valiant and expose himself to the ultimate peril and sac- rifice. Furthermore, he suspects that the Vol- unteers are by essence reactionary because they comprise no women. Their conspicuous absence from the ranks of the army is not mere neglect but deliberate exclusion: itself just a symptom of its retrograde nature.

He is convinced that the fanatics will eventually squeeze the potential for radical- ism out of the organization. From that moment on, the contradictions hidden in it will become blatant and the minority which was always reticent to organized violence will find itself, sooner or later, faced with the necessity of either abandoning its principles or withdrawing from a system which by definition could only cancel out or parody those ideals.

When death changes in degree and nature, it becomes harder to ensure the survival of the name in the renown; all that remains to do is to ratify the dis- appearance of the name in the number. Henceforth individuals count for nothing and it is the humanity of every friend, foe or innocent victim, which, by losing its unique character, suffers an unprecedented devaluation.

Because Sheehy-Skeffington did not flinch from studying the gruesome implications of this logic, he knew that violence was not the answer. On the contrary, it represented a backward step. Far more could, in fact, be achieved by intelligent, organized, positive resistance to injustice wherever it was detected.

The logic being reversed with the digging up of this disquieting evidence is a totalitarian one. Totalitarianism hates and recoils from ambivalence. When it tries to articulate vaguely its objections to it, it declares arbitrarily that it is synonymous with confusion and chaos. This is why, historically, it has constantly tried to eradicate any trace of dissent by giving the fake impression that this erasure of complexity imposes itself by the incontrovertible imperative of having to choose between confusion and order.

It knows it can undermine its absolute power. The retrieval of this information has the effect of refuting the very notion of an absolute truth and intimates instead the competition between relative truths. The elements that were suppressed by tradition are henceforth tracked down, re-evaluated and their creative potential tested.

The historical retrospective of revisionism obviously entails more than a process of destabi- lization. It re-opens historical vistas in an attempt to initiate an expedition of discovery and renewal. It is no coincidence if the new historians snatched on this forgotten and bizarre evidence.

The resort to it betrayed the hope that in its critical evalu- ation, these historians would find answers to these seditious and nerve- racking questions that no one in and out of power dared to raise. Was it reasonable to advocate a separatist solution in a country where one million Protestants were opposed even to the notion of a form of political autonomy? Had the sinking into revolutionary dogmatism increased the differences between North and South and further damaged the possibility of a rap- prochement between these hegemonic blocs?

Did the Home Rule constitu- tionalist policy of Redmond and Dillon of the s offer a better chance of healing the emotional breach between Ulster and the South? Did the men who died in and especially after in the name of the separatist ideal go to their death for nothing since this dream could never adequately materialize itself in the Irish context? Had the violence, destruction and bit- terness of the years between and done little more than hasten developments, which, at least in their broad outlines, would have happened in any case?

Did the military campaign of Michael Collins in the s influence in a negative way the consecutive shape and practices of the Stor- mont regime in Ulster? These questions were devastating in their implica- tions and the fact they did not always arise from a scrupulous reading of the historical sequence did nothing to dispel their traumatic potential. As Michael Laffan put it, in the nature of things, such hypotheses could not result in firm answers, let alone in any agreement; yet for the majority of the new historians, these became legitimate forms of inquiry.

Irish revisionism is both symptom and cure. It represents one brave effort to rehabilitate history and reaffirm its origin- ality. This chapter situates the revisionist project against a larger historical backdrop in order to give a more thorough impression of the European climate of post-historicist reappraisal and define with more detail its methodological profile.

Since the end of the Second World War, history has suffered a major theoretical challenge. This crisis, as it will be underscored, had a long gestation. However, it gathered pace and reached a climax in the s and s when the insights of postmodernism became hostile weapons in the hands of rival disciplines, such as philosophy and anthro- pology. Because historicism is at once a worldview and a method of scientific inquiry, some examination of how the shattering events of the twentieth century affected both aspects of the sensibility is essential.

Our intention here is to flesh out this phenomenon of parallel retreat from historicism. In the after- math of the Second World War, a few revisionist historians sought to refashion a discipline mired in complicities with the omnipotent govern- ments by changing the canons of selection and interpretation of facts and imposing higher scientific standards.

Unfortunately what they failed to anticipate was that this revision brought with it its own dangers, tempta- tions and quandaries. Although Moody and Edwards shared in the general optimism of the society and the age in which they lived, their own optimism was offset by a sharp consciousness of the serious challenges that still loomed ahead and demanded courage and vision.

De Valera has spoken publicly on the revival of Irish. Yet with far greater facilities than there were forty years ago, it would appear that the children were not anxious to speak it. He com- plained that the history of the last thirty years was not well known, and he attributed this to the difficulties which would arise for a teacher who might have in his class the descendants of people who took opposite sides after the Treaty.

Elsewhere he referred to the unification of this small island and he stated he did not see at the moment a direct way to achieve unity. As long as our recent history is presented as a one-sided justification of the roles played by our leaders in , so long will it be impossible to make it palatable to the children. When will all the sur- vivors of the civil war — on both sides — be big enough to admit their failure of judgment?

The coming generation is looking to the future — to an ideal that will bring about the unification of Ireland. Print ISBN : Online ISBN : Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:. Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article. Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative.

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There is a truth, a reality, and it can be, and there needs to be, an attempt to discover it. If revisionist historians have their way then present and future generations will suffer, for people will not get the truth and will not be able to learn from it. And as history has taught us, if you don't learn from the past, then you are in danger of repeating it. Interesting topics and fluent writing. But "The Defence of the History" has quickly turned into the defence of the professional historians from the post-modernists, not always very convincing, imho.

Also the relativism is represented by the critique of Carr 'What is history? Overall, not a bad book on historiography worth reading, but slightly dated and it did not impressed me like Twilight of the history. Richard J. What makes it interesting is that in this case the attack is coming from the Left. What makes it even more interesting is that Evans is not even particularly hostile to postmodernism.

His argument is that although postmodernism can offer the historian some useful insights and techniques there is a very real danger of throwing away the baby with the bath water. If historians abandon t Richard J. If historians abandon the time-honoured techniques of placing their reliance on primary sources and the belief that history is about something real, that the past can be at least partially recovered, then they will be left with nothing.

Taken to excess, postmodernist history can end up being not merely nothing but a mix subjectivity and wishful thinking, it can also open the door to some very serious dangers indeed. By rejecting the idea of objective truth postmodernism opens tremendous opportunities for extremists such as Holocaust deniers. If history can become whatever your own political leanings and subjective feelings want it to be there is no longer any valid reason for opposing the works of people like David Irving.

The most horrifying example he gives is a feminist history of witchcraft that treats all sources, including explicitly fictional sources, as being equally valid. His criticism in this case is especially telling since Evans himself is extremely pro-feminist. When it was published several years ago it attracted a predictable firestorm of criticism in spite of the fact that Evans goes to extraordinary lengths to moderate his attacks on postmodernism.

It seems that postmodernists believe that all texts should be regarded with scepticism, apart from their own! A highly stimulating book, recommended for anyone who is unconvinced by the Brave New world of postmodernism. Jul 14, James rated it really liked it. In this way, it ostensibly mirrors earlier works by E. Carr and Geoffrey Elton, both of whom the author often cites.

He breaks the development of the historical discipline into periods framed roughly from the rise of Rankean professionalism until World War I, from World War I through the beginning of the Cold War, from the Cold War to the late 60s and from the late 60s to the 80s and the emergence of postmodernism. The first period is marked by a professionalizing process and the emergence of philology as a means of historical inquiry.

This period, and the preceding ones, are also marked by a dominance of the belief that history is the history of politics and great men. This belief is toppled from power in the 60s and early 70s by the rise of social history. The success of this movement led to the assertion that it was the only true history and that all history was social history.

Evans presents postmodernism initially as a reaction to social history but soon turns to a discussion of it as an assault on the professional practice of historical scholarship writ large. He draws from a variety of postmodern sources in order to characterize postmodernism and it is here that he begins to get into trouble according to some critics. Wulf Kansteiner has argued that Evans produces a caricature of postmodernism because he draws from a limited number of sources and presents the most radical variations as mainstream.

He goes on to state that when Evans defends history against the claims of postmodernism, he does so in a facile and reductive way. Kansteiner reminds us that even if the individual historian is a relatively marginal social figure, their work can still reinforce greater institutional and cultural power.

While there are weak points to this book, some of which have already been acknowledged above, Kansteiner ignores one crucial aspect of the work. Evans is not simply assaulting postmodernism in an old fashioned attempt to keep the barbarians from the gates. Indeed, Evans explicitly sees the wave of postmodern criticism as parallel to the rise of other historical critiques and methodologies, be they philological, psychological, economic or linguistic.

As such, he seems to be advocating the absorption of the best aspects of postmodernism into the mainstream of historical methodology. He asserts that it has opened up and legitimized inquiry into the extraordinary, the magical and the transgressive. He even asserts that it has revitalized good writing as a characteristic of historical inquiry.

View all 3 comments. I found this book by the emeritus Regius Professor of Modern History agreeable and sensible, but a trifle disappointing. In my days as a member of the English Department, I found my colleagues in History both enviable and arrogant in the way they closed ranks against what they regarded as less rigorous disciplines like mine. It was delightful to find that the great Ranke learned his method from literatary studies, then called Philology.

But Evans skates very lightly for good reason as he is ofte I found this book by the emeritus Regius Professor of Modern History agreeable and sensible, but a trifle disappointing. But Evans skates very lightly for good reason as he is often on thin theoretical ice. I kept wanting him to be more precise on just what constitutes a 'fact' and how 'evidence' is evaluated.

Too often he seems to assume written documents are the principal sources for historical knowledge. This book was written before the publication of his three volume history of Nazi Germany and I often wished I could ask specific questions such as, 'Does it matter that we lack a written order by Adolf Hitler to exterminate the Jews? Lawrence's Arabs blew up.

As 1 it is somewhat useful, especially as an update or correction to E. Carr, but often unnecessarily tedious. The many intra-professional quibbles it enters into are sometimes amusing for their snide, but for a general reader like m'self not always interesting - as I simply don't know Evans's targets well enough to know wether the snark was justified.

It, meaning the 1 part, is also quite meager compared to the 2 part. And as for 2 my guess would be that is exactly what Collini said it was: a series of coarsely distorted rebuttals of coarsely distorted ideas, and that it does not engage in a serious argument with postmodernism. But this, again, is glib, because even is this was Evans intention, he certainly did not stick to that.

Because as Evans himself said, Derrida and Foucault "do get a mention", but they are not part of the background, they are dismissed as part of what Evans is criticizing. So the book kinda sorta is about them as well. So it's not out of bounds to criticize Evans's treatment especially in Derrida's case, it is more accurate to call it a 'treatment' than a 'mention', as he is discussed in some detail of them at all.

And his treatment of Derrida was inaccurate. Remembering Roderick's words, my immediate guess when I read this was that Evans relied on a secondary source rather than on Derrida himself, and indeed he refers in the first instance to a "useful summary account" in a book by David Lehman.

Ironic, or sad, that a book defending Rankean principles would be so careless with them. It is according this review so bad it includes misquotations and "a howler". Which Evans had to concede in a response : "Easthope says roundly : 'This is a howler', and I'm afraid he's quite right. This would be inadequate even if Evans only intended to discuss the influence of postmodernism of historiography instead of postmodernism itself, because Foucault's influence on the writing of history has been as I understand it from discussions with people who know more about it than I quite direct and significant.

So ignoring him or rather dismissing him should at least receive some explanation. Building on and updating the debate between E. Elton about the nature of history and historical research, Evans presents a balanced argument that acknowledges both the objectivity of truth and the subjectivity of the historian. His satirical comments about a number of other historians especially die-hard postmodernists are hilarious; nevertheless, his work really is evenhanded. He points out the contributions of different "schools" of historians, including the relativists, Building on and updating the debate between E.

He points out the contributions of different "schools" of historians, including the relativists, postmodernists, and deconstructionists, while at the same time noting the limitations of each and sometimes mocking those who go too far with their ideas. His point, then, is really that one must avoid extremes: either believing that the historian can fully recreate the past as it was with full objectivity, or believing that it is impossible to access the past as an objective reality at all.

In the end, his book is a much-needed dose of common sense. I'm teaching this book in a graduate seminar on research methods, so I may have to update this review based on student response. In fact, I wish that Evans would update the book to reflect his experiences as an expert witness in that trial. As it is, the book relates concerns among historians about postmodern philosophy in a way that I'm teaching this book in a graduate seminar on research methods, so I may have to update this review based on student response.

As it is, the book relates concerns among historians about postmodern philosophy in a way that I think will be good fodder for students. The argument, while sometimes a bit "stodgy" attempts to be even-handed in describing elements of postmodernism that have improved historical writing while also criticizing what Evans dubs "extreme relativism".

One thing I appreciated when I first read the book, is that he critiques the representation of the historical profession among philosophers of history who only ever seem to write about historians of the 19th and early 20th centuries, as if there had been no changes in historical methods of research or writing since that time. Very interesting. Eloquently written.

I would have given this three stars, because it is very complex at times and Evans' argument isn't quite as clearly put as I would have liked largely because I struggle with the whole concept of Postmodernism, and he doesn't really explain it well. However, the withering afterword, when he demolishes the critics of the first edition of the book, makes it worthy of four stars! Oct 30, Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it. Originally published on my blog here in March It may seem that investigation into the past ought to be a straightforward business, but history has been subject to a crisis of self-definition over a considerable period of time.

Indeed, this has been part of the discipline from its very start, at least to some extent, as the notion of historian as interpreter rather than chronicler was defined by Herodotus and Thucydides , who differed quite considerably as to method. Thucydides famously rest Originally published on my blog here in March Thucydides famously restricted himself to matters within living memory, but he still differed from modern practice by ascribing imaginary speeches to the people he considered to be important, something which is characteristic of ancient and medieval historians.

Evans does not range back as far as the Greeks in his discussion of issues in history to day; the question of how a historian should separate truth from fiction and how much interpretation is legitimate may go back that far, but many other issues go back to nineteenth century Germany, when the work of Leopold von Ranke brought into being criteria which have effectively formed the yardsticks of modern historical study.

These caused new issues, such as the legitimacy or otherwise of secondary sources, or whether or not history is a science - the German term applied to the subject has a wider meaning than its usual English translation. During the early part of the twentieth century, developments such as the application of Marxist principles to history and rising interest in social and economic history added new divisions between conservative and radical, and these led to the two classic works in English on the study of history, E.

Elton's Practice of History conservative. These books appeared in the early sixties, and have remained the principal university texts on the subject ever since, despite continuing changes in the academic discipline of history, with feminist history, black history and gay history becoming seriously considered as ways to look at the past.

The most serious new movement in these four decades is the advent of post-modernism, which has gone so far as to deny the possibility of writing history at all on the grounds that the past is a construct of the present. Evans' aim is to write a new account of the study of history, from as the title indicates a fairly conservative position, which looks at the various issues and controversies.

He tries to be fair, but cannot help but be critical of much postmodernist history; this is quite easy, as many statements by its advocates verge on the ludicrous. He does see good things in it, including an interest in the biographies of completely obscure individuals to illuminate a period of history as in Simon Schama's book on the French Revolution, Citizens , and a renewed emphasis on good writing as a virtue.

In recent years, controversy in history has not just been about methodology; there have been several scandals. Evans discusses the cases of David Abraham and Paul de Man at relevant places in his narrative, but gives more space to the most serious, that of holocaust denial.

He has little patience with those who seek to defend deniers on grounds of free speech, mainly , maintaining that to be a historian worthy of being taken seriously, it is necessary to respect the truth. This is also what he feels is the major problem with the relativistic approach underlying post-modernist theory; Evans believes that interpretations may be challenged but not the events of the past themselves. In Defence of History is a balanced account from a conservative perspective; Evans rejects extreme viewpoints but is happy to praise positive aspects of the various approaches to the study of the past.

The use of archaeology, and the relation of archaeology to the written record are issues which are strangely unmentioned, and an account of this and controversies specific to prehistory would have been valuable. They would not, however, fit in any obvious way with the neatly categorised and well written argument presented in the book, so that it is easy to see why they are left out.

Maybe I'm a shameless fanboy, but I will read anything by Evans. Any historiography will be a bit of a slow burn, but Evans critiques and appraises various historians, methods, philosophies, and theories with a balanced approach. Despite the changes and challenges to historical approaches, Evans does not despair of finding truth in history but rather defends the process as noted in the title.

Evans does save his strongest words for postmodernists, but he still acknowledges the positive impact that postmodernists have had in pushing historians in general to write better and to pursue a greater understanding and analysis of the past. So when Patrick Joyce tells us that social history is dead, and Elizabeth Deeds Ermarth declares that time is a fictional construct, and Roland Barthes announces that all the world's a text, and Frank Ankersmit swears that we can never know anything at all about the past so we might as well confine ourselves to studying other historians, and Keith Jenkins proclaims that all history is just naked ideology designed to get historians power and money in big university institutions run by the bourgeoisie, I will look humbly at the past and say despite them all: it really happened, and we really can, if we are very scrupulous and careful and self-critical, find out how it did, and reach some tenable conclusions about what it all meant.

This is incredibly refreshing, and I hope historians and readers alike will take the admonition to heart. View 2 comments. How do we bridge the gap between the dead and the living? We study history. And how do we study history? Well, that is probably the hottest question debated since the late s of the 20th century. In Defence of History is not a new book. It was written in and it is amazing to see how little has changed in the controversy and how things have gotten even worse.

If you are feeling lost about what the study of history is, if you are puzzled by the recent brouhaha over cultural race theory and How do we bridge the gap between the dead and the living? If you are feeling lost about what the study of history is, if you are puzzled by the recent brouhaha over cultural race theory and let me clear that for you right away, CRT is not history , if you are revolted by historical revisionism, and why there seems to be always more of it, this is a book for you.

It is still an important read for history students and is frequently assigned, while still being very accessible to the general reader. A topic that should really not be ignored by any of us. Evans is a British historian of modern history and is mostly focused on Germany. His acclaimed three-volume history of the Third Reich is simply amazing. He is also the author of Death in Hamburg, on the peculiar cholera epidemic in that city in Concerned by the fast spread of postmodernist theory since the s, he embarked on this historiographical addition not to take sides but to explain how both traditional and postmodernist historians can help keep history a major academic field and save it from the nihilistic fangs of a growing group of hyper-relativist critics who refuse to see history as anything else but an extension of the literary critical field: a work of fiction onto which any meaning can be attached, basically denying that historical truth exists.

The book is very comprehensive and divided into 8 chapters. Evans, in the tradition of E. Carr, explains what is history, how it became an academic field, what its purposes and techniques are, how it has evolved and how postmodernism brought many major and welcome changes to the profession. He takes time to explain where postmodernism comes from and cites numerous moderate and extremist postmodernist historiographers and researchers in intellectual history, sometimes magnificently debunking their claims, sometimes praising them for prescient and new insights.

Most of all, he asks us to consider the dangerous divide created by all the in-fighting: society against the individual and vice versa, hyper-relativism and deconstructionism eating away at years and years of marvellous social history itself a major victory of the second half of 20th century over old elitist political history. Not to say political history is automatically elitist or old-fashioned today.

Evans reminds us that knowledge is power, and that it should be used very carefully. And that objectivity is to be strived for something he discusses in detail in the last chapter , and that facts and evidence matter. The truth of their lives exists, and we can make sure they are not forgotten by making good evidence-based history to the best of our ability.

And when the truth is found, accept it no matter how difficult it is. The edition of has an afterword added, as Evans wished to answer the many vitriolic reviews that came out at the first publishing. I would highly recommend to get that one, as he adds to his analysis. The Notes and Further Reading sections are excellent as well. An important read if there ever was one. He was portrayed the movie "Denial" about the libel trial of Irving v. Evans is an expert on modern German history, and he wrote a three-volume history of the Third Reich.

The lineage of this undertaking is a long and venerable one. Evans notes predecessors like E. Carr "What is History? But Evans is not acting like an old curmudgeon here. In fact, he welcomes many of the insights provided by postmodernism and other innovative approaches to history, including its subject-matter, its way of investigating and knowing the past, and how history is written.

But before closing, this book deserves a place alongside the works of E. Carr and Sir Geoffrey Elton, and yes, even R. Richard Evans book, In Defense of History is not for everyone. The book gives an overview of some of the major movements in the study of history over the past years, but its primary objective is to defend history from postmodernists. The most extreme postmodernists argue that the past can be described in so many different ways and from so many different points of view that it's impossible to determine what really happened.

In fact they argue that the sources historians use are distorted by t Richard Evans book, In Defense of History is not for everyone. In fact they argue that the sources historians use are distorted by the views of those who created them, and the books historians write are so distorted by their views as to make them no different than fiction.

All ideas are equally valid, and the only reason to even read a history book is because it helps the reader to understand the historian and his ideological world. Evans sees some value in postmodernist theory, but refutes their most extreme ideas. They remind us that historians have biases, and that history can be told from many points of view. However Evans rejects the idea that there is no objective past.

He believes historians should continue to try to determine what happened in the past. He exposes the contradictions in postmodernist thought. For instance they argue that the reader of a text is free to interpret the text in literally any way they want to. However postmodernists get upset when they think people have misunderstood the meaning of things they have written. He also points out that postmodernists don't even really believe their own ideas. As an example, they have trouble with people who deny the Holocaust.

Evans effectively defends the work of historians who seek to find the truth, even as he acknowledges some helpful ideas in postmodernist history. Nov 26, Adrian K. So when Patrick Joyce tells us that social history is dead, and Elizabeth Deeds Ermarth declares that time is a fictional construct, and Roland Barthes announces that all the world's a text, and Hans Kellner wants historians to stop behaving as if we were researching into things that actually happened, and Diane Purkiss says that we should just tell stories without bothering whether or not "For my own part, I remain optimistic that objective historical knowledge is both desirable and attainable.

So when Patrick Joyce tells us that social history is dead, and Elizabeth Deeds Ermarth declares that time is a fictional construct, and Roland Barthes announces that all the world's a text, and Hans Kellner wants historians to stop behaving as if we were researching into things that actually happened, and Diane Purkiss says that we should just tell stories without bothering whether or not they are true, and Frank Ankersmit swears that we can never know anything at all about the past so we might as well confine ourselves to studying other historians, and Keith Jenkins proclaims that all history is just naked ideology designed to get historians powers and money in big university institutions run by the bourgeoisie, I will look humbly at the past and say despite them all: it really happened, and we really can, if we are very scrupulous and careful and self-critical, find out how it happened and reach some tenable though always less than final conclusions about what it all meant.

Jun 29, Adam Balshan rated it liked it Shelves: historiography. Evans is remarkably fair to all, explaining everyone's positions at great length and quotation, and even defending Marxist readings of history, "moderate" postmodernism, and the identitarian subspecializations. He views all historical perspectives as valuabl 3.

He views all historical perspectives as valuable, as long as they demonstrate intellectual honesty primarily by not fabricating or falsifying data, and allowing the historical sources to modify or even debunk cherished presuppositions. In a year where revisionist history e. May 16, Logan rated it really liked it. So from a history point of view, this is my first historian book, and this was a compelling read!

My history teacher bought this for me to help understand how to approach history as a subject. In this book the author Richard J. Evans, looks at the very different forms of approaching history, and to discuss post-modernism! This book does not analyse a specific event in history, it analyses Historians and the various different forms of approaching history in the profession of an Historian! Th WOW!

The book covers various topics, i remember one of my favorites was when the book asks whether history should be treated as a science? But overall this a great read, and if your history student, it will help you analyse source documents and history in general in a more academic way! Jul 05, Natalia rated it it was ok. The author comes across as self important, obnoxious and pretentious. Evans' picks up with an analysis of Carr's progressive view of history writing and Elton's conservative view and introduces his reader to how the discipline has progressed since then.

Although In Defence of History covers all sorts of approaches, dealing reasonably fairly with their various strengths and weaknesses, it reserves its biggest punch for the outer reaches of post-modernism, which Evans believes threatens to distort the discipline beyond anything that can reasonably be called 'history' at all. All in all, well worth reading for students of history, or for the keenly interested general reader looking to get into the theoretical dynamics of how a history book is written.

May 13, Monicaaa rated it it was amazing Shelves: historiography. This was a really excellent review of historiography for me. Jun 25, Sycamore rated it really liked it. Can there be said to be a real history, or merely interpretations?

Can historical evidence be trusted? How much, and how so? How is the historical record integrated into a coherent and accurate account? Throughout he addresses the positions of historians and the schools of history that have attempted to answer these questions with finality.

As with most sane attempts to define what history Richard J. As with most sane attempts to define what history is or should be, Evans concludes that multiple approaches to history are not only valid, but probably the best approach is one that incorporates as many as possible in a useful way.

All is text, the postmoderians proclaim, according to Evans. The postmodern critique itself would not be possible if this were the case, or even mostly the case, because the critique itself could be reduced to a writing over of other work, in short, merely a projection on a projection. Instead, there is a tension, a feedback, between the historian and the evidence. Start reading In Defence of History on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle?

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I read this book like a John Grisham novel. Seriously, I could not put it down. Historians clearly relish a good hard fight about the basics of their subject. The afterword, in which Evans defends himself from attacks on the first edition of his work, of widely varying degrees of articulacy and sanity, from both the conservative right and the swivel-eyed post-modernist left, is a master-class in how to deflate an opponent.

It makes cage fighting look like a girly slap punching contest. You can almost hear the bones crack as Evans lands a good hard kick in the ribs. It's a shame we need books like this, but the Post-modernist onslaught is relentless. I blame Post-modernism for the rise of fake news and the failure to acknowledge hard-won professional expertise, which may not be entirely fair My only minor criticism is Prof Evans gets a bit muddled with the scientific method, relegates astronomy to an 'observational science', which is so obviously wrong.

He also confuses scientific predictions with predicting the future, and this confusion allows him to tie himself in unncessary knots. Scientific theories require predictions - which is why paleobiology is a proper science - but not necessarily about the future. It makes predictions about what to expect from the fossil record, and - lo and behold - years later someone finds the predicted fossil. Early astronomers predicted where 'new' planets were, and so they were.

And so on These trivial criticisms aside, this is essential and pleasurable reading for any history student. Wonderful summary of what history is according to the most prominent schools of thought. Is it all text and nothing but the text - or does history describe things that actually happened?

That is, is it about history or about historians? And while recognising the benefits deriving from post-modern thinking about history, demolishes the theory behind it. The ease of his prose makes it look like he's fencing with a rapier - but the end result is more broadsword. The French Deconstructionists get a terrific hiding.

Their retreat from actuality being a consequence of shame at certain failures in WW2. Highly recommended. I read In Defence of History by Evans as a part of a project on the changing nature of Historiography and it was thoroughly fascinating. It works especially well for those who have read What is History by E H Carr, as these two books pair nicely by giving different perceptions of history, although contrasting it as well due to Evans writing on the turn of the century whilst Carr wrote in the 60s.

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