Category Book Reviews

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Book Review: Sam Wineburg, Why Learn History (When It’s Already on Your Phone)

If the modern history textbook was on trial for corrupting the youth, I’d appoint Sam Wineburg as the prosecuting attorney.  His hatred for the standard 1,000-page neon-flashing over-produced textbook was first on display in his 2001 book Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts.  Now, in this new work, Why Learn History (When It’s Already on […]

Book Review: Augustus Schade, The Philosophy of History (1899)

In 1899, an obscure German American named Augustus Schade wrote what is, hands down, the most absurd book ever written on the philosophy of history.  Schade self-published his “The Philosophy of History” in Cleveland, Ohio, of all places. The book claims to be based on the works of a German thinker, Rudolf Rocholl. Schade’s influences […]

Book Review: Rushdoony, The Biblical Philosophy of History (1969)

I picked up a copy of Rousas John Rushdoony’s The Biblical Philosophy of History, after learning about the man from my friend Ben House, who blogs at The Heavy Laden Bookshelf. Unfortunately, I was disappointed in this book. I have sympathy for Rushdoony’s general proposition that there is a God and that he acts in […]

Book Review: C.G. Crump, History and Historical Research (Routledge, 1928)

In my ongoing quest to read every history methods book ever printed, I’ve come across this fairly rare little book by C.G. Crump. Crump (1862-1935) sounds like a 19th century English writer even into the twentieth century. His writing is clear, precise, but not overly dense with ideas. In some ways, the book is typical […]