The Craft of International History: A Guide to Method by Marc Trachtenberg

By Marc Trachtenberg

This is a realistic consultant to the ancient research of overseas politics. the point of interest is at the nuts and bolts of old research--that is, on the best way to use unique assets, research and interpret historic works, and really write a piece of heritage. appendixes offer assets absolute to be imperative for somebody doing examine during this area.

The ebook doesn't easily lay down precepts. It offers examples drawn from the author's greater than 40 years' event as a operating historian. One very important bankruptcy, facing America's highway to struggle in 1941, indicates in remarkable aspect how an interpretation of a huge old factor could be built. the purpose all through is to throw open the doorways of the workshop in order that younger students, either historians and political scientists, can see this type of inspiration strategies the historian is going via ahead of she or he places something on paper. jam-packed with worthy examples, this can be a booklet someone interested by carrying out old examine should want to have at the bookshelf.

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103. , p. 24. 4 36 CHAPTER TWO Taylor obviously took the argument too far (and I show why in some detail in the next chapter), but as you grapple with that argument, it becomes clear that his basic claim that it did not make sense to think of Hitler as pushing ahead without regard to the political and military conjuncture had to be correct. The structure of power as a whole, both what it was at any particular point and the way it was changing over time, was bound to come into play. To understand the origins of the war, the story of international politics in the 1930s therefore had to be reconstructed, and this was a story whose logic had a good deal to do with power realities.

89 But that did not in itself mean that the decision was irrational. ”91 What does all this mean to the historian? First of all, it gives us a reasonable standard by which to assess the rationality and scientific status of historical work: science as it actually is, not science as it was supposed to be. And there is no reason to assume that historical work can never measure up to that more modest standard. 92 The demoralizing assumption that objectivity is impossible, that the mere fact that interpretation is unavoidable means that historical work can never be free from the “taint of subjectivity,” and that there is perhaps therefore little point in even trying to be objective—all this is no more warranted in history than it is in science.

The emphasis scientists place on aesthetic considerations is in fact quite striking. One Nobel Prize–winning scientist told a story about a 1957 meeting at which the physicist Murray Gell-Mann was describing a new theory of the weak interactions that he had just worked out with Richard Feynman. There were three recorded experiments that contradicted that theory, but “Gell-Mann boldly asserted that these three experiments must be faulty, because his new theory was too beautiful to be wrong. , The Humanities and the Sciences, ACLS Occasional Paper No.

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