American History and American Historians: A Review of Recent Contributions to the Interpretation of the History of the United States

American History and American Historians: A Review of Recent Contributions to the Interpretation of the History of the United States

American History and American Historians: A Review of Recent Contributions to the Interpretation of the History of the United States

American History and American Historians: A Review of Recent Contributions to the Interpretation of the History of the United States

Excerpt

This is a book about other men's books and the history that is related in them. It first took shape as a course of lectures on 'Recent advances in the interpretation of American history' delivered, on the Watson Chair Foundation of the Sulgrave Manor Board, in the University of Birmingham in 1938. Since then, it has been much worked upon, but the work has also suffered much interruption. Its purpose is to answer the question what American history, as we now know it, is about. That history has been written anew by the last two generations of American historians; and most of the American history that was published before 1910 has been out-moded. My endeavour has been to give some account of the new work and to indicate the conclusions that it points to. I have thus had two objects in view. The first has been the delineation of the characteristic features of American historiography, in so far as it has been concerned with the history of the United States, in the half century between 1890 and 1940; the second, a review of the successive chapters of the history of the United States in the light of this historical performance. But while I have kept both objects in mind throughout, both have not throughout been handled in the same way. In the first chapter I have sought to give an account of a particular phase of American historiography and in the bibliographical notes that occur throughout the book I have detailed the contributions that the new historiography has made to the several aspects of the history of the United States as I come to treat of them. In so doing I have included poor books as well as good, both because I have wanted to give a view of the extent to which particular topics have been discussed, and because for want of better one must make use of what one has. In the rest of the book I have addressed myself to a study of the events them-

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