Catalogue


The historical present : uses and abuses of the past /
Edwin M. Yoder.
imprint
Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 1997.
description
xviii, 205 p.
ISBN
0878059857 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
Subjects
More Details
author
imprint
Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, 1997.
isbn
0878059857 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
1364041
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalistÂ's view of how the study of history is our key to understanding the present
Flap Copy
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist’s view of how the study of history is our key to understanding the present
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1998-03-01:
In this gathering of essays, Yoder covers topics as diverse as the historical reputations of Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, the controversy over the significance of Christopher Columbus's voyages on their 500th anniversary, the arguments over "original intent" in Constitutional interpretation, and the 1995 dispute over the Enola Gay exhibit at the Air and Space Museum in Washington. Yoder intends to show general readers the unstable but crucial connection between past and present. He notes that history is far from independent of those who write it. But, Yoder asserts, in recent decades historical relativism has created a multitude of interpretations on many topics. He especially deplores the lack of master narratives in the 20th century to explain the great transformations of history and to present important lessons from the past. Uninitiated readers, however, should also consult Paul Conkin's and Roland Stromberg's The Heritage and Challenge (1971) and Peter Novick's That Noble Dream (CH, May 89) for detailed analyses of historical relativism, the uses of historical inquiry, and other historiographical issues raised by Yoder. Recommended for general readers and undergraduates. S. E. Siry Baldwin-Wallace College
Appeared in Library Journal on 1997-07:
Yoder, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post columnist, collects and expands here columns and book reviews dealing with historical issues. The best columns focus on American constitutional history, and his debunking of the "original intent" theory of constitutional interpretation is very good. He also sketches figures both historical (Columbus, Franco) and contemporary (Barbara Tuchman, George Kennan) who illustrate the dialectic between idealism and realism. While Yoder's views are mildly interesting, they rarely present special insights or original ideas. His mildness is exacerbated by the brevity inherent in newspaper columns; he barely starts a topic before the essay ends. An optional purchase for popular history collections.‘Robert Persing, Univ. of Pennsylvania Lib., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Booklist, July 1997
Library Journal, July 1997
Choice, March 1998
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Although the American republic is a child of history, Americans are prone to historical forgetfulness. They tend to think of themselves as future-oriented. Even when history unites with American popular culture, it is often in the form of "docudrama," or conspiracy theories, and other varieties of pseudohistory.Ed Yoder's exploration of the centrality of history in our lives blends an experienced journalist's zest for current trends with a lifelong interest in American and European history. In this book of linked essays, he writes about topics as diverse as the 1995 controversy over the Enola Gay exhibit at the Air and Space Museum in Washington, Barbara Tuchman's success as a popular historian, the historical reputations of Lincoln and Jefferson, the fluctuations of presidential rankings, the revival of nationalist wars and rivalries in Eastern Europe, the politically charged dispute over the significance of Columbus's voyages on their 500th anniversary, the light thrown by William Faulkner's novels on the dilemma of black families, and the argument over "original intent" in constitutional interpretation.Yoder shows, with an abundance of specific examples, how essential collective memory is to social understanding and self-knowledge. He argues that history, far from being a dry accumulation of facts, is a fascinating inquiry into "transformations" -how, for example, a thinly settled strip of Atlantic seaboard colonies became a nation, at first gradually and then in the revolutionary spasm of the summer of 1776.Yoder also explores the puzzling American resistance to the study of the past, suggesting that Americans avoid history in part because they have luckily escaped the tragic calamities of older cultures. The myths of American innocence and exemption, he argues, have fostered an illusion that history as the teacher of vital lessons can be ignored, although it is actually the very matrix of the way we understand ourselves in the present.Edwin M. Yoder, Jr., is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group and a professor of journalism and humanities at Washington and Lee University. In 1979 he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing.
Main Description
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist's view of how the study of history is our key to understanding the present
Main Description
Although the American republic is a child of history, Americans are prone to historical forgetfulness. They tend to think of themselves as future-oriented. Even when history unites with American popular culture, it is often in the form of "docudrama," or conspiracy theories, and other varieties of pseudohistory. Ed Yoder's exploration of the centrality of history in our lives blends an experienced journalist's zest for current trends with a lifelong interest in American and European history. In this book of linked essays, he writes about topics as diverse as the 1995 controversy over the Enola Gay exhibit at the Air and Space Museum in Washington, Barbara Tuchman's success as a popular historian, the historical reputations of Lincoln and Jefferson, the fluctuations of presidential rankings, the revival of nationalist wars and rivalries in Eastern Europe, the politically charged dispute over the significance of Columbus's voyages on their 500th anniversary, the light thrown by William Faulkner's novels on the dilemma of black families, and the argument over "original intent" in constitutional interpretation. Yoder shows, with an abundance of specific examples, how essential collective memory is to social understanding and self-knowledge. He argues that history, far from being a dry accumulation of facts, is a fascinating inquiry into "transformations" -how, for example, a thinly settled strip of Atlantic seaboard colonies became a nation, at first gradually and then in the revolutionary spasm of the summer of 1776. Yoder also explores the puzzling American resistance to the study of the past, suggesting that Americans avoid history in part because they have luckily escaped the tragic calamities of older cultures. The myths of American innocence and exemption, he argues, have fostered an illusion that history as the teacher of vital lessons can be ignored, although it is actually the very matrix of the way we understand ourselves in the present. Edwin M. Yoder, Jr., is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group and a professor of journalism and humanities at Washington and Lee University. In 1979 he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. xi
Presidents And Other Americansp. 1
The Crimes Of Christopher Columbusp. 3
Thomas Jefferson As Secular Saintp. 11
In the Shadow of Lincolnp. 19
Who Was Thaddeus Stevens?p. 27
The "How's the President Doing" Questionp. 34
Martin Luther King's Momentp. 50
Constitutional Divinationsp. 57
The Constitution After Two Centuriesp. 59
A Good Word for the Framersp. 69
The Mysteries of "Original Intent"p. 76
Nationalism at The End of an Erap. 85
Historians and The Enola Gay Exhibitp. 87
Hitler and the Historiansp. 97
Micronations and The Force of Nationalismp. 106
Yalta in History and Mythp. 113
New Thoughts About An Old Villainp. 119
George F. Kennan and The Follies of Historyp. 125
Skeletons in The National Closetp. 131
Games Historians Playp. 135
Docudrama, Film and The Limits of Fabricationp. 137
Barbara Tuchman and The Horseshoe Nails of Historyp. 151
The Estrangement Of Martin Lutherp. 158
Church and State in Oxfordp. 165
Faulkner, History and The Black Familyp. 173
American Cities: the History Of a Reputationp. 177
Epilogue: an Early Confederate History: For Dorothy Warten Candleerp. 185
Select Bibliographyp. 195
Indexp. 199
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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