Gaddis points out that while the historical method is more sophisticated than most historians realize, it doesn't require unintelligible prose to explain. Like cartographers mapping landscapes, historians represent what they can never replicate. In doing so, they combine the techniques of artists, geologists, paleontologists, and evolutionary biologists. Their approaches parallel, in intriguing ways, the new sciences of chaos, complexity, and criticality. They don't much resemble what
happens in the social sciences, where the pursuit of independent variables functioning with static systems seems increasingly divorced from the world as we know it. So who's really being scientific and who isn't? This question too is one Gaddis explores, in ways that are certain to spark
Written in the tradition of Marc Bloch and E.H. Carr, The Landscape of History is at once an engaging introduction to the historical method for beginners, a powerful reaffirmation of it for practitioners, a startling challenge to social scientists, and an effective skewering of post-modernist claims that we can't know anything at all about the past. It will be essential reading for anyone who reads, writes, teaches, or cares about history.
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"These engaging and accessible lectures describe why history matters. Non-historians who want to learn more about the field will find the book illuminating, and historians will learn from the tools provided."The San Francisco Chronicle
"A masterful statement on the historical method by a distinguished Cold War historian.... Gaddis' most provocative claim is a powerful irony: Social science, with its independent variables and deductive theories, would appear to have more scientific pretensions than does history. But the historical method, which relies on thought experiments and the interplay of inductive and deductive reasoning, more fully shares the methodical logic of such fields as astronomy,
paleontology, and evolutionary biology. Gaddis' characterization of the social sciences will surely spark debate even as it illuminates important intellectual connections between the disciplines. Delightfully readable, the book is a grand celebration of the pursuit of knowledge."Foreign
"A bold and challenging book, unafraid of inviting controversy. It provides a strong statement for our time of both the limits and the value of the historical enterprise."Alan Brinkley, New York Times Book Review
"Never before have I come across a book that so illuminated the craft of the historian.... Gaddis has a delightful command of languageand a delight in it. He draws on Gertrude Stein, Mark Twain, contemporary movies, Thucydides, Tom Stoppard, Woody Allen and lots more.... He is a distinguished scholar who writes with a clarity and a lack of pedantry that is quite marvelous. Equally impressive, he's not afraid of a rip-roaring fight with his fellow
academics."Michael Pakenham, The Baltimore Sun
"In 'The Landscape of History,' Mr. Gaddis, the author of several distinguished books on the cold war, both pays homage to Bloch (and with more conditional admiration, to the British historian E.H. Carr) and addresses the challenge of postmodernism. He does all of this in an urbane and eloquent little volume that, in its way, might even be what Bloch himself would have written had he lived.... Mr. Gaddis's learned and graceful reflections on all of these questions
are deeply humane, propelled by the conviction that only by sustaining a historical consciousness can we know where we should want to go. They will also never allow either the reader of history or the writer of it to think about the past in quite the same way as before."Richard Bernstein, New York
"This is another of those books that rewards the effort it requires. Besides providing invaluable insights into how the historian goes about his business, it teacheslike all really good booksof life beyond its boundaries."Colin Walters, Washington Times
"A technical but provocative inquiry for sophisticated history readers."Booklist
"Entertaining, masterful disquisition on the aims, limitations, design, and methods of historiography.... Employing a ...
<br>John Lewis Gaddis is the Robert A. Lovett Professor of Military and Naval History at Yale University. A leading authority on Cold War history, his books include We Now Know, The Long Peace, and Strategies of Containment. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.<br>
Preface; 1. The Landscape of History; 2. Time and Space; 3. Structure and Process; 4. The Interdependency of Variables; 5. Chaos and Complexity; 6. Causation, Contingency, and Counterfactuals; 7. Molecules with Minds of Their Own; 8. Seeing Like a Historian; Notes; Index