Re: recommendations of modern history

mike shupp (ms44278@HUEY.CSUN.EDU)
Thu, 23 May 1996 19:46:55 -0700

On Tue, 21 May 1996, Daniel A. Foss wrote:

> Mike Shupp has, I worry, slightly misread me. Historical scholarship
> today is breathtakingly good. I am stunned by the level of excellence which
> prevails. The contrast with the turgid legalisms, prioritizing of pettinesses
> in elite factionalism perhaps far beyond that apparent to the masses of the
> populations in the periods covered; the personalizing and dynasticizing of
> Rulership, the mystifications of Legitimacy (always most Legitimate post
> facto, *after* the Settlement of the War of the Spanish, Austrian, Polish,
> Carlist, Bavarian, grosso modo Catholic-Suart/Protestant-Orange, whatever;
> or *before* the incumbent's infertility induces sponsorship of pet claimants
> in cages by some Serious Power); the aridity of the chronological presentation
> in vacuo; as prevailed among the texts of musty Grand History by dust-covered
> Vast-in-Erudition White Male Eminents, now Dead, and the social-structural,
> anthropological, culturally multiply-dimensionalized, even deconstructed, from
> odd texts hitherto beneath True Historians' contempt, and best of all, the
> sense of Alienness-Otherness wherewith the past, ostensibly sometimes our Near
> Chronological Neighbours but now somehow Truly Off The Wall in ways difficult
> to capture! It's a whole new History ballgame!

Careful there! Or you'll gag to death on your tongue.
Prescott, Motley, Parkman.... those eminently dead white males
were great historians. And great writers.
I'm not sure which 20th century historians will be considered
their equals in the 21st century. Hugh Thomas, perhaps. Alan Clark?
Corelli Barnetti? Douglas Freemantle? Samuel Morison? Hans Delbruck?
(Excuse the one sideness of this list. With finals out of the way, I'm
reading Kagan's series on the Peloponnesian War; my mind is stuck in
military history mode.)
Ferdinand Braudel? Steven Runciman? Thomas Carr? Bruce Catton?
Richard Rhodes? Marcel Bloch? Raymond Aron?
It hasn't been a great age for history writing, has it, this
century of so much history. Instead, it's been a golden age for
historical novelists.

Okay, my tastes are old fashioned. What other historians should I
I be reading this summer, between the physical anthropology and the
archaeology (and the science fiction and the murder mysteries and the spy
novels and another dash through Jane Austen)?

Mike Shupp
California State University, Northridge