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Who Owns History?: Rethinking the Past in a Changing World

af Eric Foner

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249380,387 (3.66)4
A thought-provoking new book from one of America's finest historians "History," wrote James Baldwin, "does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do."Rarely has Baldwin's insight been more forcefully confirmed than during the past few decades. History has become a matter of public controversy, as Americans clash over such things as museum presentations, the flying of the Confederate flag, or reparations for slavery. So whose history is being written? Who owns it?In W ho Owns History?, Eric Foner proposes his answer to these and other questions about the historian's relationship to the world of the past and future. He reconsiders his own earlier ideas and those of the pathbreaking Richard Hofstadter. He also examines international changes during the past two decades - globalization, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of apartheid in South Africa - and their effects on historical consciousness. He concludes with considerations of the enduring, but often misunderstood, legacies of slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. This is a provocative, even controversial, study of the reasons we care about history - or should.… (mere)

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This is an insightful and thought-provoking collection of essays on the study of history by the eminent American historian, Eric Foner. Foner's best known works focus on the Reconstruction period after the Civil War, and that is a major focus for this book. In addition, Foner writes about how his own life shaped his interest in history, and his attitudes towards it. The key message of the book is that history is necessarily interpretive, and that interpretation of the past is shaped by current political realities. This is vividly demonstrated when one compares (as Foner does) the Ken Burns version of the Civil War (a battle between brothers that led to reconciliation) to Foner's own interpretation (a struggle over slavery that still has not be completely resolved). 'Who owns history?' is an important subtext in current American political debate, and "Who Owns History?" is a great help in thinking about the problem. ( )
1 stem annbury | Nov 11, 2012 |
I picked this up in a bookstore on a trip to Washington, D.C. I am a history guy, read a lot of history, and am a history teacher. I've also read some Eric Foner. He is an original mind, and this collection of essays shows a historian at his best, synthesizing his understanding of history with a view to the present (or at least more recent past.) ( )
  ksmyth | Jul 20, 2007 |
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A thought-provoking new book from one of America's finest historians "History," wrote James Baldwin, "does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do."Rarely has Baldwin's insight been more forcefully confirmed than during the past few decades. History has become a matter of public controversy, as Americans clash over such things as museum presentations, the flying of the Confederate flag, or reparations for slavery. So whose history is being written? Who owns it?In W ho Owns History?, Eric Foner proposes his answer to these and other questions about the historian's relationship to the world of the past and future. He reconsiders his own earlier ideas and those of the pathbreaking Richard Hofstadter. He also examines international changes during the past two decades - globalization, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of apartheid in South Africa - and their effects on historical consciousness. He concludes with considerations of the enduring, but often misunderstood, legacies of slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. This is a provocative, even controversial, study of the reasons we care about history - or should.

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