What is History Now?
By David Cannadine
Review by Rufus (Ancient and Modern History)
At its core, What Is History Now? is a book that documents the new types of historiography that have emerged in the study of history in recent years. The book’s title to a reference to a seminal work of the author’s grandfather, E.H. Carr, What is History? Helen Carr both acknowledges the importance of her grandfather’s work but also makes the case that new historiography needs to write about the huge technological and societal changes that have occurred since the 1960s. We are simply not living in the same world that E.H. Carr did. The book is comprised of a series of short essays written by a number of prominent historians. The intended impact of these essays as a whole is to delve into the new disciplines within the field of history, such as the history of emotions which Helen Carr writes about, but also to see the disciplines of the past in a new, not always positive, light.
As well as being useful in light of my university work, I found that many of the essays within the book were just fascinating (not to mention funny). It was not a book I felt obliged to read by virtue of its place within the reading list but one I can say I would have chosen in Waterstones were I looking for a new read. The book helped me to see how history is portrayed both within and outside academic contexts; the critical lens the book encourages applied to the film as much as it did literature. My favourite essay was one of the first, which touched on representations of history within media (any fans of The Crown will be particularly tickled).
What is History Now? by David Cannadine
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Published: 19 October 2023