The Purpose of the Past (audiobook)

Reflections on the Uses of History

10.8 hrs • 9 CDs• 1 MP3 CD • Unabridged
Target Audience: Adult
Release Date: 01/01/08
Library CD Library Edition CD titles are packaged in an attractive, full-sized, durable vinyl case with full color art. Cloth Sleeves keep compact discs protected and in numerical order. 
- 03/01/08 9781433210044
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MP3 CD MP3-CDs: Come in a durable vinyl case similar to a dvd case. An index of contents and tracking information are included within the Mp3-CD format. MP3's can be played on any compatible CD player 
- 03/01/08 9781433210075
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Playaway Playaway: Playaway editions are a pre loaded audio device that is half the size of deck of cards. Simply plugin headphones and listen. 
- 01/01/08 9781605147932
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Reflections on the historian's craft and its place in American culture, from a master craftsman.

History is to society what memory is to the individual: without it, we don't know who we are, and we can't make wise decisions about where we should be going. But while the nature of memory is a constant, the nature of history has changed radically over the past forty years, for good but also for ill. In The Purpose of the Past, historian Gordon S. Wood examines the sea change in the field through considerations of some of its most important historians and their works. His book serves as both a history of American history-neither wholly a celebration nor a critique-and an argument for its ongoing necessity.

These are both the best of times and the worst of times for American history. New currents of thought have brought refreshing and vitally necessary changes to the discipline, expanding its compass to include previously underexamined and undervalued groups and subjects. At the same time, however, strains of extreme, even nihilistic, relativism have assaulted the relevance, even the legitimacy, of the historian's work. The divide between the work of academic and popular historians has widened into a chasm, separating some of the field's most important new ideas from what would give them much greater impact: any kind of real audience.

But The Purpose of the Past is not another crotchety elegy for what history once was but sadly now isn't; it is also a celebration of what, at its best, it is, and a powerful argument for its ongoing necessity. Along the way The Purpose of the Past offers wonderful insight into what great historians do, how they can stumble, and what strains of thought have dominated the marketplace of ideas in historical scholarship. A master historian's commanding assessment of his field, The Purpose of the Past will enlarge the capacity to appreciate history of anyone who reads it.

Review Quotes

“[Wood] possesses as profound a grasp of the early days of the Republic as anyone now working.”

New York Times Book Review

“Essential reading for anyone who cares about history.”

Washington Post

“Illuminating...[Wood’s] pitch-perfect erudition is legendary.” 

Los Angeles Times

“Fruitful reading for academics and history buffs alike.”

Kirkus Reviews