Sometimes an Art: Nine Essays on History (Hardcover)

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"In this series of extensive essays on the nature of history writing, Bailyn asks a series of questions frequently overlooked in the study and enjoyment of history, such as how did things feel for the participants in events, when outcomes were uncertain? Can we, or even should we, attempt to recover such uncertainty? What role can imagination play in the writing of history? He explores this elusiveness through the lens of loyalists in Revolutionary America, Scots in London, and convergent colonial experiences in the US, Canada and Australia, and others. The answers, of course, lie in the fact that history is an incomplete quilt and it will always take imagination and empathy to present even the semblance of a complete story. Sometimes An Art is an insightful window onto that empathy that will appeal to anyone interested in history."--Reviewed by Andrew

— From Andrew Recommends


From one of the most respected historians in America, twice the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, a new collection of essays that reflects a lifetime of erudition and accomplishments in history.

The past has always been elusive: How can we understand people whose worlds were utterly different from our own without imposing our own standards and hindsight? What did things feel like in the moment, when outcomes were uncertain? How can we recover those uncertainties? What kind of imagination goes into the writing of transformative history? Are there latent trends that distinguish the kinds of history we now write? How unique was North America among the far-flung peripheries of the early British empire?

As Bernard Bailyn argues in this elegant, deeply informed collection of essays, history always combines approximations based on incomplete data with empathic imagination, interweaving strands of knowledge into a narrative that also explains. This is a stirring and insightful work drawing on the wisdom and perspective of a career spanning more than five decades--a book that will appeal to anyone interested in history.

About the Author

BERNARD BAILYN is Adams University Professor and James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History Emeritus at Harvard University. He founded, and for many years directed, the International Seminar on the History of the Atlantic World, which helped to reorient the study of the Atlantic region in the early modern era. His previous books include The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, which received the Pulitzer and Bancroft Prizes in 1968; The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson, which won the 1975 National Book Award for History; Voyagers to the West, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987; Atlantic History: Concept and Contours; and The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781101874479
ISBN-10: 1101874473
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Publication Date: January 20th, 2015
Pages: 320
Language: English