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Artful History

A Practical Anthology

Edited and with an Introduction by Aaron Sachs and John Demos

View Inside Price: $37.50

February 18, 2020
304 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
ISBN: 9780300239904

A collection of memorable, stirring, and eloquent historical essays, designed to help any historian write more artfully

Is there any reason that serious historical scholarship cannot receive literary expression? Isn’t it possible that the most committed empiricists and postmodernists might both achieve better results by thinking of writing as a craft, rather than just a means of packaging research? This book compiles some of the most compelling efforts to make history writing eloquent, stirring, and memorable, in the realms of both practice and theory. The authors included here prove the great potential of approaching the writing of history as a literary art, even as they retain a commitment to rigorous scholarship. The collection shows how historians can aspire to find a form that matches and enhances their substance, nudging readers toward what historian John Clive called the “spell that lingers in the memory and is conducive not just to reading but to rereading.”
With selections from: Jonathan Spence, Simon Schama, Saidiya Hartman, Wendy Warren, Jill Lepore, Louis Masur, Jane Kamensky, and John Demos, among others.

Aaron Sachs is professor of history at Cornell University. John Demos is professor of history emeritus at Yale University. Together, they are the co-editors of Yale University Press’s New Directions in Narrative History series.

“Good history can also be great literature. The essays in Artful History rupture the tired preconception that scrupulous history need be dry and dull with their powerful evocations of the vanished world of the past."—Karl Jacoby, author of Shadows at Dawn: A Borderlands Massacre and the Violence of History

“Seventeen excellent writers who are also distinguished scholars offer a spirited, entertaining, illuminating, thought-provoking, militantly readable, thoroughly persuasive, and much-needed reminder that history is a subgenre of nonfiction literature.”— Carlo Rotella, author of The World Is Always Coming to an End: Pulling Together and Apart in a Chicago Neighborhood

“Our most engaging historians embrace the simplest of messages: show, don’t tell.  These imaginative essays, each a gem, remind us that writing is part of the art of interpreting the past.”— Peter C. Mancall, author of The Trials of Thomas Morton: An Anglican Lawyer, His Puritan Foes, and the Battle for a New England
Arcadian America

The Death and Life of an Environmental Tradition

Aaron Sachs

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Becoming America

Highlights from the Jonathan and Karin Fielding Collection of Folk Art

Edited by James Glisson; With contributions by John Demos,

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New Directions in Narrative History
A Living Man from Africa

Jan Tzatzoe, Xhosa Chief and Missionary, and the Making of Nineteenth-Century South Africa

Roger S. Levine

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Two Family Stories from the Reformation and Modern America

Craig Harline

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Arcadian America

The Death and Life of an Environmental Tradition

Aaron Sachs

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Sarah Osborn's World

The Rise of Evangelical Christianity in Early America

Catherine A. Brekus

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The Captain and "the Cannibal"

An Epic Story of Exploration, Kidnapping, and the Broadway Stage

James Fairhead

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Strange Bird

The Albatross Press and the Third Reich

Michele K. Troy

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