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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Deconstruction laid outDec 6 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
I've taken a methodology and theory class twice now, once for my MA and just recently as part of a Ph.D. history program. I can only wonder what I would have thought of this book if I had a chance to read it before finishing my latest foray into historiography. This text is not for the layman but if you have a background in historiography and have an interest in understanding how postmodernism has had an effect on historical writing and research, then you'll enjoy this book. My only qualm about the text is a limited number of examples from actual historical sources. But since this is a book about deconstruction and not a advocate of it per se, it can be excused. In fact it shows something I believe to be a problem with postmodernism, and any all encompassing theory, the fact that it generalizes the subject and can never hope to cover all the information it professes to explain within a narrow guideline.
Reading "Deconstructing History" is an eye opener, to say the least. Much of what the author explains is interesting in a theoretic sense but I believe deals more with social and cultural history than other historical sub groups. Focusing on Michel Foucault and Hayden White in the closing chapters give a somewhat radical view of what postmodernism is capable of if taken to an extreme. Multiple narratives of the same subject is an interesting insight, and occurs on a regular basis within history, but there are those events (Holocaust) which can only be represented as one type of narrative, tragic. It would have been interesting to see if the author could settle or tackle the age old question of "Is art an imitation of life or vice versa?" Since it seems this goes to the heart of White's argument. Comparing history to fiction - since it supposedly follows the same guidelines - does not tell us if fiction takes up after history or history after fiction.
I won't assume to do justice to all this book encompasses, I can readily admit that some of the points I'm still not sure about and struggle with even after rereading the text a few times. But, if you have an interest in what postmodernism entails, can handle the jargon of historiography (there's a glossary in the back that's quite helpful) then this is a valuable investment.