Historical mistake

June 27, 2003

Richard Evans misses the biggest question in history ("Our job is to explain; it is for others to judge", THES , June 13).

Finding "the truth" in the facts of history reveals a failure to understand that equating knowing what happened with truth is naive and simplistic.

History is a rather more complex undertaking than Evans suggests. He seems to think of history through a curious mixture of 19th-century empiricism and 1960s social scientism. What is the biggest question in history? It is to explore the distinction between "the past" and "history". In other words, what happened and how we represent it as "history".

Alun Munslow
Professor of history and historical theory
Staffordshire University

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