An experienced author of history and theory presents this examination of the purpose of history at a time when recent debates have rendered the question 'what is history for?' of utmost importance.
Charting the development of historical studies and examining how history has been used, this study is exceptional in its focus on the future of the subject as well as its past. It is argued that history in the twenty-first century must adopt a radical and morally therapeutic role instead of studying for 'its own sake'.
Providing examples of his vision of 'history in post-modernity', Beverley Southgate focuses on the work of four major historians, including up-to-date publications:
- Robert A. Rosenstone's study of Americans living in nineteenth-century Japan
- Peter Novick's work on the Holocaust
- Sven Lindgvist's A History of Bombing
- Tzvetan Todorov's recently published work on the twentieth century.
This makes compulsive reading for all students of history, cultural studies and the general reader, as notions of historical truth and the reality of the past are questioned, and it becomes vital to rethink history's function and renegotiate its uses for the postmodern age.