The Killing of History: How Literary Critics and Social Theorists are Murdering Our Past

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Free Press, 1996 - History - 298 pages
For 2,500 years, since the time of Herodotus and Thucydides, historians have sought to record the truth about the past. Today, however, the discipline is suffering a potentially lethal attach from the rise to prominence of an array of French-inspired literary and social theories, each of which denies that truth and knowledge about the past are possible. These theories claim the central point on which history was founded no longer holds: there is no fundamental distinction between history and myth or between history and fiction. Historians in classrooms from Berkeley to Paris have embraced these views, and an increasing number of literary critics and social theorists now feel free to define their own work as history and to call themselves historians. The result is revolutionary: historians have not only changed how history is taught, they are also increasingly obscuring the very facts on which the truth must be built. In The Killing of History, Keith Windschuttle offers both a devastating expose of the absurdity of these developments and a defense of the integrity of Western intellectual traditions which are now so widely attacked. Windschuttle examines exactly what is being taught about Columbus' discovery of the New World; the history of asylums and prisons in Europe; the fall of Communism in 1989; and the Battle of Quebec in 1759. He offers a much needed defense of traditional history as a properly scientific endeavor and argues that the great works of history should still be regarded as among the finest forms of Western literature.

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User Review  - georgee53 -

Post-Modernism is once again the culprit in the destruction of standards as they apply to the study and writing of history. Highly critical of the whole enterprise of literary theory and how its incoherence has caused irreparable damage to western culture. Read full review

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User Review  - librisissimo - LibraryThing

Gives a very clear explanation of all the post-modern theories of culture and history, and explains why their influence on historians has effectively destroyed objective historical research and ... Read full review


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About the author (1996)

Keith Windschuttle has been a lecturer in history, social policy, sociology and media studies at a number of Australian academic institutions. Author of five previous books, he lives in Sydney.

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