This book was published in 1960, intended to prepare incoming college freshmen for the study of history.
The book outlines some very basic approachesThis book was published in 1960, intended to prepare incoming college freshmen for the study of history.
The book outlines some very basic approaches that can be employed to study specific incidents, time periods, places, people, etc. For example, history can be approached from an economic perspective, or it can be approached as the study of people (i.e., great leaders or important figures in history). In each case, the author's main point seems to be that it is futile to argue for the study of history from any single approach, stressing the importance of each factor and how it relates to the others. Discounting the economic approach for the "great leaders" approach, or vice versa, would be to limit one's understanding of the subject.
The author illustrates this point in the structure of the book itself: chapters and sub-sections are introduced and organized each according to a different approach to history (e.g. the economic approach and the "great leaders" approach). He then offers, in each case, one or more examples of how this approach can be employed to analyze specific incidents in history.
I can't picture this book resonating very well with college freshmen in 2012, but I found it interesting and it taught me a few things despite my advanced age. Some of the language is quite humorous, as when the author chastises students who write in the manner of "telegrams" and "dime-store detective novels."
I'd give it 5 stars, but there is a bunch of boring stuff about how to write research papers that I sort of skimmed over. Interestingly, his advice on writing research papers runs directly contrary to what I understand to be the contemporary thesis-based approach to college-level academic writing. It seemed like he was advising students to basically regurgitate things they found in other books. He also outlined some organizational techniques involving index cards and other things, most of which are completely out of date....more
This book was published in 1963, presumably as a resource for students. It consists of essays published after the New Deal era, reflecting on the timeThis book was published in 1963, presumably as a resource for students. It consists of essays published after the New Deal era, reflecting on the time period of Roosevelt's presidency and offering arguments as to the relative success of his programs. The authors of these essays range from outside political commentators to former members of the Roosevelt administration itself.
The authors of the essays represent a variety of political perspectives. Some on the Left claimed that the New Deal was merely a temporary fix to the larger problems of the capitalist system. Some on the Right claimed that the program was too aggressive and that Roosevelt had introduced ideas that were Socialist, European, or "alien." Critics from each of these perspectives seemed to also raise issue with Roosevelt's acquiescence of political power, some going so far as to call him a "demagogue."
Still other authors come from a more centrist, or "liberal," perspective. They praised Roosevelt's efforts and applauded the spirit of his administration. One essay, written by an Englishman, addresses Roosevelt as a cultural figure and the favorable impression he left on many people in Europe at the time, and how this impression influenced their view of United States culture as a whole.
Several of these authors had worked directly with Roosevelt in the establishment of his New Deal programs. Some continued to heap praise on him while others raised issues with the direction he took.
One thing that struck me about this book overall was the gentlemanly level of discourse. For the most part, even Roosevelt's harshest critics conceded certain positive qualities of his leadership, or at least the sincerity of his convictions. This approach, markedly less contentious than today's political dialogue, seems to allow for a more developed understanding of complex issues.
This book also demonstrates the existence of a true American Left before World War II. Most people today seem take for granted that the political spectrum extends from "liberal" to "conservative," when historically the liberal perspective was considered more centrist and the left wing was generally more radical. After World War I, we became the only Western industrialized nation without a political party that represents the interest of Labor specifically. The demonization of unions and concepts like Socialism within our culture might be responsible for this paradigm shift.