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The Killing of History: How Literary Critics and Social Theorists are Murdering Our Past [Paperback]

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Item Number 282385  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   372
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.25" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.75"
Weight:   1.1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 7, 2000
Publisher   Encounter Books
ISBN  1893554120  
EAN  9781893554122  


Availability  3 units.
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Item Description...
Overview
According to Keith Windschuttle, history today is in the clutches of literary and social theorists who have little respect for or training in the discipline. He believes that they deny the existence of truth and substitute radically chic theorizing for real knowledge about the past. The result is revolutionary and unprecedented: contemporary historians are increasingly obscuring the facts on which truth about the past is built. In The Killing of History, Windschuttle offers a devastating expose of these developments. This fascinating narrative leads us into a series of case histories that demonstrate how radical theory has attempted to replace the learning of traditional history with its own political agenda.

Publishers Description
A huge success in hardcover, The Killing of History argues that history today is in the clutches of literary and social theorists who have little respect for or training in the discipline. He believes that they deny the existence of truth and substitute radically chic theorizing for real knowledge about the past. The result is revolutionary and unprecedented: contemporary historians are increasingly obscuring the facts on which truth about the past is built. In The Killing of History, Windschuttle offers a devastating expose of these developments. This fascinating narrative leads us into a series of case histories that demonstrate how radical theory has attempted to replace the learning of traditional history with its own political agenda.


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More About Keith Windschuttle

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Keith Windschuttle has been a lecturer in history, social policy, sociology and media studies at a number of Australian academic institutions. Author of five previous books, he lives in Sydney.

Keith Windschuttle was born in 1942.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > History > Historical Study > Historiography   [374  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > History > World > General   [101287  similar products]



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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Killing Is Indeed The Right Word  Aug 23, 2008
When western colleges and universities began to accept the relativist theories of poststructuralism, their English and comparative literature departments quickly became the first eager acolytes. It was not long before their history brethren followed suit. In THE KILLING OF HISTORY, Keith Windschuttle lucidly analyzes how this trend began, provides examples of the conversion in the very words of the New Believers, and shows how and why the speed of the general acceptance of historical relativism must surely lead to the killing of traditional history. Windschuttle's book is a scary polemic in that though his main concern is history, his fears apply equally well to the full range of academic disciplines.

Windschuttle begins by noting that the tendency for historians to acknowledge the very real baneful influences of prejudice, ideology, and bias have been self-acknowledged since classical Greece times. Yet, most history writers assumed that they could control these biases while still admitting that there were truly universal concepts like truth, justice, and facts. He adds that the first doubters were the 18th and 19th century philosophers like Nietzche, Hegel, Hume, and Marx. The real problem, he believes began with what he terms the "Paris Labels and Designer Concepts" of such poststructuralists as Derrida, Foucault, and Althusser, all of whom trashed the very notion of the existence of absolutes and replaced them with a basically anything goes methodology of writing history in which the line between fiction and fact becomes intentionally blurred so that the marginalized voices of the tongueless victims of what these postmoderns term a racist cabal of hated and self-hating Western ideologues may find voice.

Windschuttle considers the lamentable practice of writing history under the microscope of such divergent theories as semiotics, structuralism, poststructuralism, anti-humanism, posthistory, postmodernism, relativism, hermeneutics, induction, and even fiction, all of which share a common base in their reckless disregard of acknowledging how literal truth ought to occupy central stage in the writing of history. Windshuttle's favored tactic is to examine how representative theorists of relativism view specific historical events under the lens of their respective ideologies. He targets Cortez in Mexico, Cook in Hawaii, and the Aborignes of Australia. In each case, he uses the very words of the authors to undermine and demolish their premises. Without exception, all these relativist writers manifest a desire to expose what they deem as the not so latent racist underpinnings of western civilization so as to provide a voice of the marginalized. Windschuttle instead cleverly turns their argument that western culture is racist on its head by noting that the reverse is far more likely true.

The breadth of learning and erudition in THE KILLING OF HISTORY is astounding. Windschuttle's chapter of the discourses of Michel Foucault is the best that I have ever read. His closing comments in the Afterword succintly summarize his fear that the killing of his title is one that is not likely to go away anytime soon. THE KILLING OF HISTORY is required reading for anyone who wonders whether what they read in a history book is fact or fiction.
 
The Best critique of the academy written in recent times  Dec 26, 2006
This is the best critique of the modern academic institution's teaching of history and the humanities to come along in perhaps 20 years or more. In a brilliant way the author confronts what is slowly strangling life out of history, replacing it with all sorts of psuedo-scientific and moral-relativist 'history as theory' and 'history as relative' studies produced since the advent of post-modernism. The idea, which has been presented by some 'historians' like Ilan Pappe, that history is merely propoganda and have then went on to relish dishing out that propoganda without any semblance of accuracy is finally taken to task.

There was a period when history was the record of analls or rathert he record of the deeds of the kings, this is the history roughly found in the Bible and then later in Herodotus, Thucidities and other early pracitioners. Then someone decided that history had neglected the little people, the workers, and that was only a short step to those that claimed history is relative, and therefore there is no 'truth' and thus everything can be fabricated, there must be no judgement.

This book takes all this to task and dares to question why we must accept the idea that history is bunk and that therefore it can be made up and we have to consume it. History today in the acamemy resembles the 'history' produced in Stalin's russia, and yet this is true in free democratic societies. Finally a book that tells us why and challenges all of us to think.

Seth J. Frantzman

 
Superb work for anyone interested in how history is being rewritten.  Jun 28, 2006
Professor Windschuttle exposes the dangers of using structuralism, poststructuralism, postmodernism, cultural relativism and the like as tools for doing history. By quoting extensively from those he takes issue with, taking time to clarify the mumbo-jumbo used by some of these theorists, and explaining his reasoning and conclusions in plain English, the author has made it vastly simpler for the average person to comprehend these radical approaches and why they are so dangerous to truth. One could write more, but it would only be restating much of what has already been said.
 
Exposing the "emperor's new clothes" of "intellectual" snobs  Apr 9, 2006
As a student of history, I found mr. Windschuttle's book very useful in understanding how the minds of "intellectual" snobs work, from where they get their bizarre thoughts and why it's important to fight for the maintenance of History as a serious academic discipline. Sure the author may seem too right-wing-orientated for some people as he tends to portray indigenous people as brutal savages and the anglo-saxon culture as inerrant; but mr. Windschuttle's personal thoughts on civilisation is not really the point with this book. Then of course some parts of the book can be difficult to understand as it deals with advanced philosphy and heavy scientific theory, but otherwise it's easy to follow. The emperor has no clothes - the postmodern philosophers writes illogical mumbo-jumbo that even small children can see through...
 
Loved it  Mar 20, 2006
I found this book recently in a secondhand store, and couldn't put it down. This book has been reviewed extensively already so I just want to mention a couple of things.

First of all, it speaks volumes that books criticizing anti-realist approaches and philosophies are so frequently accused of being politically conservative, as this book has by a few reviewers here. (Last time I checked, not everything that every political liberal says is pure fantasy; more to the point, it is perfectly possible to feel inclined toward political liberalism while finding problematic the anti-realist/post-modern influence on historiography). While Windschuttle does speak favourably of the work of a few conservative thinkers, it strikes me as a real stretch to say that Windschuttle is here championing political conservatism. Rather, his book deals with the reality of the past and how we might best seek to apprehend it, and how certain philosophies inhibit that quest.

Two, while I find much to admire in the philosophy of Karl Popper (particularly in his political writings), I thought Windschuttle does well to raise questions about the eventual destination of Popper's epistemology. In short, inspired by David Stove's incisive critique, he argues that Popper, along with Kuhn, Feyerabend, and certain other modern philosophers of science, have done much to lay the groundwork for the kind of lunacy he describes elsewhere in the book. I thought this was particularly interesting and thought-provoking, as well as in many respects irrefutable.

Anyway, a very well-written book, and very enlightening.

 

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