This text examines the problem of historical truth. Seeking the roots of contemporary historical study in the Enlightenment, the authors argue that a model of historical research, based on neutrality and objectivity, served historians well until World War II. After that post-modernism suggested history could not reveal the truth about the past and the rise of social history produced a great amount of statistics which effectively swamped the search for historical truth. Accepting that much of history teaching has been flawed, the authors nevertheless argue for an affirmation of historical knowledge against the doubts of the sceptics and the relativists, guiding the reader through the complex areas of political correctness and multiculturalism.
Joyce Appleby (1929-2016) was a professor of history emerita at UCLA and the author of The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism and coauthor of Telling the Truth about History, among many other works. A former president of the American History Association, she was awarded the 2009 Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Prize for distinguished writing in American history from the Society of American Historians. Lynn Hunt is Distinguished Research Professor at UCLA, former president of the American Historical Association, and author of numerous works, including Inventing Human Rights and Telling the Truth about History. She lives in Los Angeles. Margaret Jacob is an author and UCLA professor. Her writings and lectures focus on the work of Newton's immediate followers, and on the British radicals and romantics of the 1790s.