What is History?
978 0 14 013584 8
English • Paperback • 188 pages

Ranke, stating what he considered the proper aim of the historian, filled generations of historians after him with a burning zeal for objectivity. 

But who is to say how things were? In formulating a modern answer to the question 'What is History?', Professor Carr shows that the 'facts' of history are simply those which historians have selected for scrutiny. Millions have crossed the Rubicon, but the historians tell us that only Caesar's crossing was significant. All historical facts come to us as a result of interpretative choices by historians influenced by the standards of their age.

Yet if absolute objectivity is impossible, the role of the historian need in no way suffer; nor does history lose its fascination. This posthumous edition includes new material by R.W. Davies which presents the major conclusions of Professor Carr's notes for the second edition and a new preface by the author, in which he reflects on the current mood of pessimism and despair among Western intellectuals and calls for 'a saner and more balanced outlook on the future'.