What is the history of a “history book”? In How to Read a History Book: The Hidden History Of History (Zero Books, 2018), Marshall...

What is the history of a “history book”? In How to Read a History Book: The Hidden History Of History (Zero Books, 2018), Marshall Poe, founder and Editor-In-Chief of the New Books Network, tells the story of why and how we have the “history books” we have. The book uses the literary device of “Elizabeth Ranke,” an ideal type of the modern academic historian, to show how academic disciplines, the structure of college and careers, the tensions between popular and academic publishing, and the morality and ethics of history, shape the “history book.” Whilst each chapter critically relates a stage in Elizabeth’s life and career to the form “history books” take, the overall message of the book is a positive defense of history in the current social and political juncture. A short and accessible text, the book will be essential reading for anyone interested in the artifact called “a history book.”

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