By John Burrow
This extraordinary e-book through one among Britain’s so much favourite historians describes the highbrow impression that the learn and attention of heritage has had within the Western international over the last 2,500 years.
Treating the perform of heritage now not as an remoted pursuit yet as a side of human society and an important a part of the tradition of Europe and the US, John Burrow magnificently brings to lifestyles and explains the specified traits present in the paintings of historians from the traditional Egyptians and Greeks to the current, together with Livy, Tacitus, Bede, Froissart, Clarendon, Gibbon, Macaulay, Michelet, Prescott and Parkman. the writer units out to not supply us the heritage of educational self-discipline yet a background of decisions: the alternative of pasts, and the methods they've been demarcated, investigated, provided or even occasionally realized from as they've got replaced in accordance with political, non secular, cultural, and (often most crucial) partisan and patriotic situations. Burrow goals, in addition, to alter our perceptions of the the most important turning issues within the background of heritage, permitting the guidelines that historians have had approximately either their very own occasions and their founding civilizations to emerge with unforeseen freshness.
Burrow argues that the heritage of background is likely one of the best methods we need to comprehend the previous. definitely, this quantity stands by myself in its ambition, scale and fascination.
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Additional resources for A History of Histories: Epics, Chronicles, Romances and Inquiries from Herodotus and Thucydides to the Twentieth Century
1 0 - 2 6 ) ; this is n o t merely w r o n g but not very cogent. N 0 discussion of Herodotus can avoid the vexed question, i n antiquity at least, of his reliability and his alleged credulity and even lying. O f course he was sometimes misled or ignorant, and he shared beliefs of the ancient w o r l d we do not n o w h o l d (though this cannot be what his ancient critics, by far the fiercest, meant). H e seems to have been particularly unfortunate w i t h his informants i n Egypt, so that scholars w o r k i n g on ancient Egypt n o w have a much lower view of h i m than those of Babylon and Persia, w h o regard h i m as a valuable authority.
Herodotus is i n no doubt that Athens was the core of Greek re sistance and suffered most, being directly i n the path of the invaders. The most crucial policy decision on the Greek side was that of the Athenians n o t to defend the city but to retreat across the isthmus to the Peloponnese and rely on their fleet t o defeat the Persians. ' Some thought this referred to a t h o r n hedge w h i c h surrounded the Acropolis, but Themistocles spoke out for those w h o interpreted the wooden w a l l as a reference to the Athenian ships, and was believed.
This is a summary of the events Thucydides recounts i n Book I ( 2 4 - 6 5 ) i h Epidamnus, Corcyra, C o r i n t h and Potidaea, u n t i l a general denunci ation of the existing treaty between Athens and Sparta came to seem a reasonable response o n the grounds that by these events i t had already been broken. Thucydides retails the arguments i n detail, though he regards them as superficial: 'The real reason for the war is, i n m y opinion, most likely t o be disguised by such an argument. 23).
A History of Histories: Epics, Chronicles, Romances and Inquiries from Herodotus and Thucydides to the Twentieth Century by John Burrow