That Noble Dream

By Peter Novick,

Book cover of That Noble Dream: The 'Objectivity Question' and the American Historical Profession

Book description

The aspiration to relate the past 'as it really happened' has been the central goal of American professional historians since the late nineteenth century. In this remarkable history of the profession, Peter Novick shows how the idea and ideal of objectivity were elaborated, challenged, modified, and defended over the last…

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Why read it?

1 author picked That Noble Dream as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

If you like dishy books, you’ll love this inside look at historians as they argue with each other and gossip behind other historians’ backs. While not offered as humor, Novick’s tale pulls back the curtain on academic historians’ ideological and often bitterly personal contests. In this case it’s over the central question of modern historical thought: whether or not history can achieve objectivity. Novick terms their arguments “essentially confused” and much like trying to nail jelly to the wall. Along the way, he reveals the altogether human elements behind all efforts to advance knowledge. The story is particularly relevant for…

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