Quotations about   historiography

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History is a jangle of accidents, blunders, surprises and absurdities, and so is our knowledge of it, but if we are to report it at all we must impose some order upon it.

Henry Steele Commager (1902-1998) American historian, writer, activist
The Nature and the Study of History, ch. 5 (1965)
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Added on 11-May-22 | Last updated 11-May-22
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In the popular imagination, the belief persists that history involves little more than reconstruction, a retelling of the past “as it actually was.” But historical understanding involves far more than mere empiricism; it demands a readiness to draw back from the facts to reflect on their significance and their interconnection.

Peter E Gordon
Peter E, Gordon (b. 1966) American intellectual historian
“Why Historical Analogy Matters,” New York Review of Books (7 Jan 2020)
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Added on 24-Sep-21 | Last updated 24-Sep-21
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Our task as historians is to make past conflicts live again; not to lament the verdict or to wish for a different one. It bewildered me when my old master A. F. Pribram, a very great historian, said in the nineteen-thirties: “It is still not decided whether the Habsburg monarchy could have found a solution for its national problems.” How can we decide about something that did not happen? Heaven knows, we have difficulty enough in deciding what did happen. Events decided that the Habsburgs had not found a solution for their national problems; that is all we know or need to know. Whenever I read the phrase: “whether so-and-so acted rightly must be left for historians to decide,” I close the book; the writer has moved from history to make-believe.

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
Trouble Makers: Dissent Over Foreign Policy 1792-1939 (1957)
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Added on 23-Aug-21 | Last updated 23-Aug-21
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