There are many stories we can tell about the past, and we are not, perhaps, as free as we might imagine in our choice of which stories to tell, or where those stories end. John Arnold's Very Short Introduction is a stimulating essay about how we study and understand history. The book begins by inviting us to think about various questions provoked by our investigation of history, and explores the ways these questions have been answered in the past. Concepts such as
causation, interpretation, and periodization, are introduced by means of concrete examples of how historians work, giving the reader a sense of the excitement of discovering not only the past, but also ourselves.
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John H. Arnold is Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London, specializing in the medieval period and the philosophy of history. His publications include 'Nasty Histories: Medievalism and Horror' in History and Heritage: Consuming the Past in Contemporary Culture (ed. John Arnold, K. Davies, and S. Ditchfield).
1. QUESTIONS ABOUT MURDER AND HISTORY; 2. THE HISTORY OF HISTORY; 3. WHAT REALLY HAPPENED: TRUTH, ARCHIVES, AND THE LOVE OF OLD THINGS; 4. ESCAPES FROM THE TOWER; 5. CAUSATION AND INTERPRETATIONS; 6. TELLING STORIES, TELLING TALES; 7. PERIODIZATION AND TIME; 8. OBJECTIVITY, TRUTH, AND JUDGEMENT; 9. THE ROLE OF THE PAST IN THE PRESENT; FURTHER READING; INDEX