Clio's Favorites: Leading Historians of the United States, 1945-2000

Clio's Favorites: Leading Historians of the United States, 1945-2000

Clio's Favorites: Leading Historians of the United States, 1945-2000

Clio's Favorites: Leading Historians of the United States, 1945-2000

Synopsis

Although historians talk about each other's work routinely, they have been reluctant to record their thoughts about the leading practitioners of U.S. history. Robert A. Rutland attempts to remedy this state of things with this collection named for Clio, the Greek muse vested with the inspirations of history. The volume offers a glimpse of the lives and work of historians who must be considered among the most remarkable from the last half of the twentieth century.

The roll call of excellence for Clio's Favorites was established when Rutland informally polled some twenty-five historians, asking them to name the outstanding workers in the field of U.S. history since the end of World War II. Among the criteria for selection were: quality (not volume) of the historian's work; influence in the field of study; importance of his or her graduate and undergraduate teaching; and the figure's public persona as reflected by awards, honors, and involvement in public service. The historians profiled in Clio'sFavorites,,most of whom broke new ground, met and surpassed these standards. The list could have gone on, but Rutland believes these twelve represent the cream of the crop.

Just as the subject of each essay in Clio's Favorites is a remarkably distinguished historian, the authors of these twelve essays are accomplished historians themselves. Good historical writing is never outdated, Rutland argues. The extensive work of the scholars profiled here has endured and will continue to endure. Likewise, the writing in Clio's Favorites, by twelve expert historians, will survive. This book will be a lasting record of the contributions made by the best U.S. historians practicing their craft over thelast fifty years.

Excerpt

Robert Allen Rutland

Lio, the Greek muse vested with the inspiration of history, has been reigning for a long time in places as diverse as New Haven, Cambridge, Oxford, Paris, Bologna, and Berkeley. If there is something grandiose in claiming that we have found Clio's outstanding practitioners in American history, forgive us for overstatement. But here we go.

Historians talk about each other's work all the time but have a reluctance to record their thoughts concerning colleagues. Hence the entire twentieth century passed by with only a handful of books devoted to the historical profession in the United States. the landmark work was the 1937 publication, The Marcus W. Jernegan Essays in American Historiography, written by former students of their teacher at the University of Chicago and edited by William T. Hutchinson. This festschrift became a kind of Bible for a generation or so of graduate students, who went into their oral examinations with trepidation and a copy of Jernegan nearby. Pastmasters, published in 1969 and edited by Marcus Cunliffe and Robin Winks, brought the story up to date. Both books reached back to Francis Parkman's time. None of the historians covered by the 1937 book is in this work, but from the Cunliffe-Winks collection we find four historians who still command respect—Richard Hofstadter, David M. Potter, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and C. Vann Woodward. Eight new faces—those of Bernard Bailyn, Merle Curti, David Herbert Donald, John Hope Franklin, Howard Lamar, Arthur S. Link, Gerda Lerner and Edmund S. Morgan— complete our roll call of excellence. Initially, there were thirteen historians who made “the final cut, ” but the person who accepted one assignment never turned in his essay, and deadlines cannot be stretched forever. Our “Contributors” section notes that essays on five of the chosen twelve have been written by former students.

How did some historians make the honored list and others not? Earli-

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