Historical Evidence and Argument

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Univ of Wisconsin Press, Jan 20, 2006 - History - 340 pages

Historians know about the past because they examine the evidence. But what exactly is “evidence,” how do historians know what it means—and how can we trust them to get it right? Historian David Henige tackles such questions of historical reliability head-on in his skeptical, unsparing, and acerbically witty Historical Evidence and Argument. “Systematic doubt” is his watchword, and he practices what he preaches through a variety of insightful assessments of historical controversies—for example, over the dating of artifacts and the textual analysis of translated documents. Skepticism, Henige contends, forces us to recognize the limits of our knowledge, but is also a positive force that stimulates new scholarship to counter it.

 

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Contents

Traveling Hopefully
5
The Anxieties of Ambiguity
15
Unraveling Gordian Knots
29
When Too Much Is Not Enough
42
The Many Births of Frank Lloyd Wright
58
Destroying in Order to Save
65
Speaking of History
77
Sensing Incongruity
91
Rule Life vs Real Life
148
When Might Makes Wrong
161
Six Hundred Barrels of Plaster of Paris
173
Millions of Moving Parts
186
He Says She Says
200
Bringing Texts Up to Code
211
Gaining and Providing Access
223
Hearing a White Horse Coming
236

Poisoned Chalices
102
Scotching the MythMaking Machine
117
Irreconcilable Differences
125
Were Changing Everything Again
134
Notes
245
Bibliography
279
Index
317
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

David Henige is the African studies bibliographer at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and editor of several national series on African history.

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