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Marc Bloch. The Historian's Craft
Reflections on the Nature and Use of History and the Techniques and Methods of Those who Write I
Vintage | 1964 | 0394705122 / 9780394705125 | 224 pages | djvu | 5 Mb
Journalists and historians have the daunting task of answering the five W's: who, what, where, when, and why. In this legendary book author pertaining to the understanding of the historical method, THE HISTORIAN'S CRAFT, like a stream of thought or a conversation with the reader.
"...a generation represents only a relatively short phase. Longer phases are called civilizations."
Marc Bloch - veteran of World Wars I and II, historian, professor, writer, French patriot, entreats us in this spare volume to maintain our objectivity, to interpret history with the skepticism of the journalist and the scientific method of the researcher. He identifies some of the pitfalls, the improperly translated idiom, the anthropomorphism of time and place, and relying too heavily on the written accounts of earlier historians, as means by which the understanding of historical events can be skewed. And history must be viewed as a continuum, a rolling cause-and-effect leading from then until now and beyond, events which seldom fit easily into our need to categorize them by fixed dates.
But then, historians already know these things, so of what value is "The Historian's Craft" today?
There is a poignancy to this book that Marc Bloch may not have anticipated from his moment in time, but looking back toward the era in which he wrote, the reader can see "The Historian's Craft" as Bloch's attempt to instill order and sanity into the turbulent and almost inexplicably surreal fall of France during World War II. I interpret this book as his salve, his struggle to maintain objectivity during the madness he observed as the Nazis overwhelmed his country.
Older than fifty now, having earned the right to a quiet life in academia but refusing to leave his beloved France, Block joined the Resistance, fought against the Nazis, was captured, tortured and killed. And so, "The Historian's Craft" becomes a record to help us interpret Marc Bloch's life and the era of occupied France, as well as lessons in craft from a learned man.