Author Archives: michaeljdouma

Book Review: Marshall T. Poe, How to Read a History Book: The Hidden History of History (Zero Books, 2018)

There have been a rash of history books recently with incorrect titles. Sam Weinburg’s Why Study History when its Already on Your Phone has very little to do with justifying learning of history in the age of the smart phone, and Alex Rosenburg’s  How History Gets it Wrong: The Neuroscience of Our Addictions to Stories […]

Remembering Gerlof Homan

I remember Gerlof Homan as a standby at Dutch American history conferences.  I probably met him for the first time in Holland, Michigan in 2004, or in Sioux Center, Iowa, in 2006.  I remember some of his presentations, especially his narrative style and his concern for individuals in history. He was the founder of “Peace […]

Book Review: David C. Krakauer, John Lewis Gaddis, Kenneth Pomeranz, eds. History, Big History History & Metahistory (Santa Fe Institute, 2017)

The Santa Fe Institute sounds like an Elon Musk/ Lex Luther style lair, where the brightest thinkers come together to hatch a scheme for controlling the planet. What many of the participants of the book want to control is the shape and scope of historical narrative. They want history to be big, to cover grand […]

Book Review: Sean Patrick Adams, How Americans Kept Warm in the 19th Century (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.

In the 18th century, Americans burned a lot of wood to keep their homes warm.  But everything from a log cabin to a brick house had an open fire place with a chimney made of brick or stone. These open fires were quite inefficient. As Adams notes, houses in the Northern states would burn ten […]

The State of the History Discipline (and where have the good history blogs gone?)

A new report has historians in a tizzy. The history discipline has lost more undergraduate majors than any other discipline in the country. Meanwhile, over at the History News Network half of the lead articles  (1, 2, 3, and 4) and almost every blog  (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 )  is about Trump […]

Book Review: Sarah Maza, Thinking About History (University of Chicago Press, 2017)

The genre of historians writing about their own field is large and growing. Some of these are quite good, like John Burrow’s A History of Histories, which traces historical writing from the Greeks to the present, or, more relevant to most active historians, Georg Iggers’ Historiography in the 20th century.  But since I’ve also read […]

Space-time visualizations without a flux capacitor

I’m on tour at various regional colleges, giving presentations about my new book, Creative Historical Thinking. I try to make these presentations interactive, with a number of historical thinking exercises for the audience. One point I have been consistently trying to make is that the ways we conceive of time can fundamentally differ from one […]

Book Review: Alex Rosenberg, How History Gets Things Wrong: The Neuroscience of Our Addiction to Stories (MIT Press, 2018).

A new book by an established philosopher of science challenges the value of narrative explanations, of history, and of purposeful action more generally. Historians, it seems, have been doing it wrong. They have been under the spell of believing that people act with purpose, and that by studying history we can understand human motivations and […]

A Tale of University Bureaucracy, in 89 (or so) emails.

January 10, 2018: M applies for a seminar that I am running. January 15, 2018: I write M to congratulate her on being accepted to the seminar. January 17, 2018: M confirms that she will attend the seminar. January 18, 2018: I inform all of the seminar attendees about the reimbursement procedure. March 9, 2018: […]

Interview about Classical Liberal History