Good history of one generation can be bad history of the next

31 Aug

Edmund Leach once said, “Bad” history is seldom constructed out of fantasy; it is simply that we tend to accept as good history whatever is congenial to our contemporary way of thinking. The good history of one generation becomes the bad history of the next

At one level, history of the present day as chronicled by those that matter today may not entirely be a product of fantasy. They may convincingly rationalize the conflicts of the present day to suit their political or religious point-of-view. They may possibly succeed in carrying the day with them. However, it is the succeeding generations, which have the benefit of a perspective view of things, who can judge whether what was accepted in the past was really a good piece of history.

Ideally, Good history tries to be as objective as possible. It tries to describe what happened, with the kind of detail that creates an honest, dispassionate and accurate, although imperfect picture. It is not confined to whatever is congenial to contemporary way of thinking. It is also not a tract to propagate an “ism.

We can impulsively draw up a checklist of what a Good history is not. However, those who live through it can seldom judge it

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Posted by on August 31, 2012 in History



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