Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Historian's Craft: Reflections on the Nature and Uses of History and the Techniques and Methods of Those Who Write It.” as Want to Read:
The Historian's Craft: Reflections on the Nature and Uses of History and the Techniques and Methods of Those Who Write It.
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Historian's Craft: Reflections on the Nature and Uses of History and the Techniques and Methods of Those Who Write It.

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,103 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
In this classic work, distinguished French economic historian, Marc Bloch, discusses the techniques of historical observation, analysis, and criticism, and the reestablishment of historical causation in assessing events. What is the value of history? What is the use of history? How do scholars attempt to unpack it and make connections in a responsible manner?

While the top
Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 12th 1964 by Vintage (first published 1949)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Historian's Craft, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Valerie Shearer There is no simple answer . . but here are a few of my thoughts.
Marc Bloch's son had asked him, "Why History?"
Bloch answered his son with this book -…more
There is no simple answer . . but here are a few of my thoughts.
Marc Bloch's son had asked him, "Why History?"
Bloch answered his son with this book - he wrote sitting in a Nazi prison.
He wrote apologetically at time because he did not have his notes; he wrote from memory. History is memory - the "official" memory of a state or the private memories of individuals. We all have a history that is based on memory; the recordings of others; public monuments as places of memory. At the end of his life, deprived o this notes, Marc Bloch had only his own memory to write; at times he falters because he is unsure; he apologizes because he does not have his notes but he leaves this to us to understand why history matters.
Of all of the books on the theory of history, Marc Bloch's thin volume is simply the most poignant, stirring and inspiring. Soon after he began this book he was murdered by the Nazis who held him. A great loss for all of us. But at the same time, he gave us this beautiful book as a guide.
A basic book for any one who would like to study the art and craft of history. Since his death, many historians and anthropologists have addressed the question about history and memory; but for me, this book is the one that struck a chord.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Aug 27, 2011 rated it liked it
I turned to the back of the book to read the author's credentials, expecting the usual Oxbridge/Ivy League pedigree and litany of awards. Instead I was shocked to learn that Marc Bloch had been tortured and killed by Nazis. Here was a historian who joined the French Resistance rather than escape while he could. He penned this meditation on the nature of history as a Jew in occupied France, without the aid of an academic library.

Wow. It would be impossible not to respect Marc Bloch. Though this
Dec 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Someone should write a book about people writing books away from their libraries. A passel of them owing to war, WWII in this case (and, I think, in the case of Auerbach's Mimesis); others to distance or remote location (Empson in China). There is something ballsy about saying 'here's my opus--I wrote it from memory since the Nazis blew up my books, the indigenous population cooked them in a stew, the sherpa dropped them in a crevasse...' Anyhoo. Bloch's book is a more elegant, less systematic v ...more
Mark Bowles
Aug 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
* Introduction
* What is the use of history? What is the legitimacy of history?
* There is an entertainment value to history
* History can help to integrate fragments of knowledge into a unified whole, synthesis
* History, Men and Time: This chapter defines history
* This book accepts a broad interpretation of the word history--inquiry
* The object or history or inquiry is man
* History is further defined by calling it the study of men in time
* The present effects the knowledge of the past, as does the
Il famoso saggio di Bloch, sul quale si sono formate generazioni di studenti, esamina il problema spinoso della ricerca storica e dei suoi metodi. Una buona ricerca non deve solo prendere in esame il passato, ma anche il presente da cui prendere le mosse. Nell'analisi di un'epoca storica è opportuno spostarsi dal passato verso il presente o viceversa? Per il grande storico francese sarebbe meglio procedere a ritroso, dal più conosciuto al meno conosciuto, onde evitare che, procedendo al contrari ...more
Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historiography
Deze Nederlandse editie van Marc Bloch’s Apologie pour l’Histoire is uitzonderlijk, vooral omdat het een grondig aangepaste teksteditie is, voorzien van een degelijke inleiding en begeleid door een notenapparaat dat onduidelijkheden toelicht en stellingen van Bloch in zijn context zet en met bibliografische verwijzingen ondersteunt; tenslotte zijn ook nog aanvullende teksten van Lucien Febvre en Bloch zelf toegevoegd.
Ik was enkele maanden geleden al eens begonnen aan een oude Franse editie, maa
Dan Beaver
Feb 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Second reading of this book; placed here because I really don't remember when I read it first.

This is a remarkable little book that should be read by anyone in the social sciences since the methodology transcends.
Sep 20, 2014 added it
Shelves: no-rating
Read for school.
A 20th-c. classic, and a book that's been on my shelves since I was an undergraduate. A fine read by a fine scholar, and essential reading for anyone preparing to do History as a profession.
Jan 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Muy interesante.
Jan 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, nonfiction
This is the best book on historiography that I've ever read. So good. I kept muttering "yes! yes!" to myself while reading.
Marcelo Melo
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Figura no melhor que me já chegou às mãos.
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pienso que este libro lo escribió Bloch teniendo en mente a los estudiantes universitarios franceses de nivel superior, los suyos también, que planeaban convertirse en historiadores profesionales. Hay pasajes del texto, sin embargo, que se vuelven bastante esotéricos, como si Bloch se olvidara de los estudiantes y estuviera conversando consigo mismo, o con otros eruditos. También pueden deberse estos fragmentos algo enredados –al menos para mí– a las condiciones en que escribió el grueso de su a ...more
La conversazione interrotta

E' terribile e simbolico che questo libro si interrompa bruscamente nel momento in cui Bloch analizza il concetto di causa nell'analisi storica. I nazisti hanno eliminato una mente brillante e soprattutto aperta, lasciandoci orfani di una persona capace di vedere oltre, mantenendosi sempre legato alle persone. E quindi la storia come scienza che parla degli essere umani, una scienza, e quindi improntata al rigore e alla disciplina come le altre scienze. Per inciso, è
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Before going into college, I seriously considered becoming a historian. I ended up studying chemistry and getting accustomed with the rules of the scientific method. And in comparison, this book can be very well considered as a study on the method for history. Bloch is very aware of the possible bias of historians while examining information, and specially of acknowledging the ignorance of situations based on the available data. It is a perfect introduction to the understanding of history as a s ...more
Славея Котова
Хубава книга, но твърде разпиляна в интердисциплинарното анализиране.. И един хубав цитат "Тъй като впрочем няма нищо по - изменчиво по природа от подобни присъди, подложени на всички колебания на колективното съзнание или личната прищявка, историята е приела облика на най-несигурната дисциплина: кухите обвинения са следвани от толкова безполезни реабилитации. Робеспиеристи, антиробеспиеристи, молим ви за милост: смилете се и просто ни кажете какъв е бил Робеспиер"
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Marc Bloch's "The Historian's Craft" is a necessary read for anyone even considering becoming a historian. It details in a thoughtful and comprehensive way the limitations and difficulties of bridging that gap between the dead and the living.

A truly masterful work by an experienced and equally amazing author, "The Historian's Craft" is at once educational and a reflection on historiography.
Hillary Borders
Sep 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Read for Historiography
Cata Chacón S.
Una excelente lectura para sumergirse en la labor del historiador.
Feb 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: storia
E' un testo di una chiarezza illuminante, accessibile a tutti.

Di fatto, è un manuale che sintetizza tutti gli strumenti dello storico. Ma, più in profondità, racchiude una sua grande saggezza.

Prima di tutto, sottolinea un fatto mai scontato: quel che accade appartiene alla dimensione umana. La storia non è qualcosa di oggettivo, ma qualcosa che prevede in sé tutta la mutevolezza umana: menzogne, alterazioni, punti di vista marcati, culture diverse, tutto contribuisce a rendere sempre parziali
Jun 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: francia, storia
“Le cause in storia non si suppongono. Si cercano” .

Bloch sospese la stesura di “Apologia della storia” per unirsi al movimento di Resistenza Franc-tireur, scelta che gli costò la fucilazione per mano dei nazisti il 16 giugno 1944.
Il libro uscì, incompiuto, nel 1949 grazie al suo amico e compagno di studi Lucien Febvre.

Cos’è la Storia? Bloch afferma che è la scienza degli uomini nel tempo.
“Lo storico non pensa solo "umano". L'aria in cui il suo pensiero naturalmente respira è la categoria dell
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Some scholars possess the ability to be quietly brilliant, conveying ideas and information in an conversational but comprehensive style. Marc Bloch is the rare individual who translates that skill to his writing.

This is an excellent little text that addresses how historians approach their profession. It is written informally and covers the process of thinking and writing historically--everything from defining what the aims of history can be, to using and evaluating bias in evidence, encouraging
Sense of  History
This book offers a reflection on some fundamental aspects of the historical profession, with valuable insights. But it is rather unsystematic, and clearly unfinished. Especially his assertion that sources, or traces as he calls them, are more useful as indirect witnesses, namely to extract things out of them there that were not intended by the witness, is a bit too extreme. This is true in the field of mental history (histoire des mentalités), but it neglects a very wide domain of the historical ...more
Davide Ferrari
Un libro fondamentale per qualsiasi studente o studioso di storia; in esso si evidenza il metodo storico, ad oggi predominante, canonizzato da uno dei più grandi storici e pensatori del '900 europeo. Tuttavia "L'apologia" di M.Bloch è un libro complicato, di difficile comprensione, soprattutto se non si è avvezzi al linguaggio storiografico. La difficoltà della lettura non risiede solo in questo; infatti il lavoro di March Bloch non era pensato per la pubblicazione; in esso si scorgono più che n ...more
May 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you are at all interested in learning how historians find out about the past, what problems they encounter and how they can and do make decision about what to include and what not, this is a must read. The author was killed by the Nazi in WWII as member of the French resistance, which left this book unfinished. However, it is still a monumental work. It's easy to read, but still contains huge amount of useful and pertinent information without the "academic rhetoric" that is so common among sc ...more
Luis Cardenas
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La historia personal de Bloch, así como su nefasto final a manos del totalitarismo hacen de este libro aún mas curioso y exquisito, ya que fue en su encarcelamiento cuando lo escribió. Con una sencillez impecable, Bloch describe todos los corredizos pasos de la Historia como ciencia y como filosofía, de sus ventajas y desventajas como ciencia social, de los pasos en falsos y las fortalezas que debemos aumentar, así como las debilidades que deben ser vigiladas. Bloch narra en uno de sus capítulos ...more
Jun 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Excerpt from my essay:

Bloch expands upon this departure from positivism, attributing the theory’s shortcoming to the human element in history. To determine the cause of a regime change, we cannot use the same formulaic precision as a mathematician would use to solve a proof. “Where calculation is impossible we are obliged to employ suggestion.” In rejecting a completely scientific approach to analyzing history, both Bloch and Carr inherently admit to a degree of uncertainty in any historical wor
May 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general-history
This book is a must for anyone serious about studying history. In spite of its age, it's still very relevant. This would have been a useful book to have read before blundering my way through my MA. It's a fairly easy to read, well articulated reflection on a lot of the major problems historians deal with on a regular basis. All of these topics - word choices, critical analysis, observation, causation, etc. - are ones that you're already expected to be fairly comfortable with but that are hard to ...more
Adrian  Borjas
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Un libro de lectura casi obligatoria para todo el que quiera dedicarse a la carrera de Historia. También útil para los aficionados de la Historia, ya que les da un buen esbozo sobre el trabajo de historiar. Un libro que es bastante significativo si se toma en cuenta el contexto en el que Marc Bloch lo escribió, en pleno cautiverio con los nazis, sin saber que mas tarde conseguiría la muerte; es por lo tanto que esta obra representa el legado de uno de los mejores historiadores, uno de los pioner ...more
Eric Pecile
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Mark Bloch, one of the founding figures of annales history presents in this masterpiece of historical philosophy the nuances and difficulties of the historian's trade. From difficulties in terminology, sourcing and method Bloch firmly defines what it is to write history: the scientific study of past human behavior from all perspectives. If you are looking to become a historical writer or pursue the field academically or even refute some post-modernist dribble this is the book you have to read.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past
  • The Idea of History
  • What Is History?
  • Historiography in the Twentieth Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge
  • That Noble Dream: The 'Objectivity Question' and the American Historical Profession
  • The Houses of History: A Criticial Reader in Twentieth-Century History and Theory
  • The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, Volume I
  • Gender and the Politics of History
  • The Purpose of the Past: Reflections on the Uses of History
  • Medieval Civilization 400-1500
  • In Defence of History
  • The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller
  • New Perspectives on Historical Writing
  • Historiography: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern
  • The Making of the Middle Ages
  • The Three Orders: Feudal Society Imagined
  • Main Currents of Marxism: The Founders, the Golden Age, the Breakdown
  • A History of Histories: Epics, Chronicles, Romances and Inquiries from Herodotus and Thucydides to the Twentieth Century
Marc Léopold Benjamin Bloch (6 July 1886 in Lyon – 16 June 1944 in Saint-Didier-de-Formans) was a medieval historian, University Professor and French Army officer. Bloch was a founder of the Annales School, best known for his pioneering studies French Rural History and Feudal Society and his posthumously-published unfinished meditation on the writing of history, The Historian's Craft. He was captu ...more
More about Marc Bloch...
“The very names we use to describe ancient ideas or vanished forms of social organization would be quite meaningless if we had not known living men.” 10 likes
“Thenceforth they thought that, rationally concluded, doubt could become an instrument of knowledge.” 5 likes
More quotes…