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Saturday, 21 June 2008


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I agree with you about Tuchman and have a fair selection of her work on my shelves. I should admit that, despite my regard for her, I am upset whenever I notice the US spelling of the title of her book "Practicing History". However, to be fair, she was American and I bought my edition in Denver.

BTW "narrative - shmarrative", she's a bloody good read.

"she's a bloody good read"

Absolutely, but also an excellent historian in my untutored opinion. Robert K. Massie is a worthy successor - don't forget, go and buy his book "Dreadnought", I'll refund you the money if you don't enjoy it!


I'll follow your recommendation and reserve my rights concerning your generous offer.

I read Tuchman's book many years ago when I was studying history at uni - enjoyed it thoroughly. Massie's Dreadnought I can recommend too.

I tend not to worry much about the academic sniffyness over narrative history books. The argument made by academic historians is the crucial facts and details are skimmed over the writers of these books. The counter argument in their defense is that they are readable. Both are entirely correct.

I tend to judge a history book by the detail in the footnotes and Tuchman certainly backs up her quotations and judgments from a very wide range of sources. What I like about her, and Massie, is that neither of them fall for that Marxist nonsense that personalities don't matter. How anyone could come to that conclusion after reading what happened in August 1914 with the unbelievably stupid but superbly phlegmatic Joffre and the gallery of characters, British as well as French who surrounded him is beyond my understanding.

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