[Marxism] Fwd: Review of Jo Guldi and David Armitage, "The History Manifesto" @insidehighered

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Sep 17 06:30:32 MDT 2014


The History Manifesto

September 17, 2014
By Scott McLemee
When young sociologists would consult with C. Wright Mills, it’s said, 
he would end his recommendations with what was clearly a personal motto: 
“Take it big!” It was the concentrated expression of an ethos: Tackle 
major issues. Ask wide-ranging questions. Use the tools of your 
profession, but be careful not to let them dig a mental rut you can’t 

Jo Guldi and David Armitage give much the same advice to their 
colleagues, and especially their colleagues-to-be, in The History 
Manifesto, a new book from Cambridge University Press. (Guldi is an 
assistant professor of history at Brown University, while Armitage is 
chair of the history department at Harvard.) Only by “taking it big” can 
their field regain the power and influence it once had in public life – 
and lost, somewhere along the line, to economics, with its faith in 
quantification and the seeming rigor of its concepts.

But issues such as climate change and growing economic inequality must 
be understood in terms of decades and centuries. The role of economists 
as counselors to the powerful has certainly been up for question over 
the past six years. Meanwhile, the world’s financial system continues to 
be shaped by computerized transactions conducted at speeds only a little 
slower than the decay of subatomic particles. And so, with their 
manifesto, the authors raise the call: Now is the time for all good 
historians to come to the aid of their planet.


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