The New History and the Old is a marvelously written, perfectly serious, yet vastly entertaining critique of current fashions in the writing of history--social history, psychoanalytic history, quantitative history, Marxist and neo-Marxist history, mentalité history.
As the "new" history is coming to dominate the profession, Gertrude Himmelfarb argues, it tends to supplant rather than supplement the "old," which centered on political, constitutional, diplomatic, and intellectual events. The effect is not only to transform the discipline of history, but also to alter profoundly our sense of the past. A mode of history that belittles politics and ideas denigrates the political institutions and intellectual traditions that have shaped our past, and severs the continuity between past and present, leaving little that is usable in their place.
This provocative analysis of the "revolution in history," as it has been called, has implications that go well beyond the discipline of history itself. It raises fundamental and far-reaching questions about the nature of our postmodern society and will undoubtedly arouse a good deal of discussion and debate along broad cultural lines....Continua