Napoleon Series Archive 2003

Re: Bad History
In Response To: Re: Bad History ()

The discussion got me to thinking so I looked up some old (ancient) notes of mine from college. The class was on historiography and we read several books on the subject, but my notes have this to say about the art of writing history:

The two primary decisions a historian makes in writing his books or monograph are:

PURPOSE: What is the book supposed to do? Here is the list of possible purposes given:
1. To describe a new or relatively undeveloped area of history
2. to present new research
3. to present new analysis or conclusions
4. to present new aspects of an already covered era or event
5. to provide a coherent narrative of an event previously not covered

in such a fashion
6. to provide the history to a new audience
7. to persuade an audience of some conclusion, new or old
8. To simply entertain.

While these goals are not mutually exclusive, having more than two or three for one book is very ambitious.

The audiences can be varied too:

1. Scholars in a particular field of study
2. Academia, either a particular discipline or in general
3. An unrelated field in an effort to establish some cross-fertilization.
4. All interested groups or parties in a society or field of interest-

-like wargaming
5. The general public

Again, it is very difficult to write a book with more than one audience in mind. Different audiences demand different things from a work of history.

This last point is very important. When wargamers started reading and researching history, they started asking different questions and demanding far different kinds of history and books from authors than other audiences. (Don't blame Petre for that.) It created "new histories" and new research, not because the information hadn't been available before, but because the questions hadn't been asked before. You see that in just the discussions of just maps.

Bill

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Bad History
Re: Bad History
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Better History 101
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Re: Bad History
Bad History and Relativism
Re: The history book I would like to have written
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Re: Bad History
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Re: Bad History
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Re: Rory Muir's "Salamanca".
Early Christmas
Re: Quotes
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Limits of Narrative
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Feu de Joie for Rory Muir
Why Write History?
How We Grow
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Right Angle
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Footnoting
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Only 'quite intelligent'?
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Audiences
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Follow Ups or Spin Offs
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Reach for your Swords !
Re: Reach for your Swords !
"Full Monty" Footnotes!!
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Long Footnotes
Re: Reach for your Swords !
Fair Points
When I was child, I spoke as a child
In defence of Chandler
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Re: When I was child, I spoke as a child
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Re: Limits of Narrative
The Pits
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And Good, Durable History
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Good Military History