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History, Historians, and the Dynamics of Change

Green offers a remarkably lucid, erudite, and insightful description and analysis of the theoretical foundations of modern historical writing. He is the first to provide an orderly introduction to the several systematic models by which leading modern historians have attempted to explain continuity and change. This cogent survey is essential to an understanding of modern Western historiography. The book introduces history as a theoretical discipline. Green examines the many pitfalls of historical writing and demonstrates that historical truth is a most elusive quarry. He addresses periodization, the manner in which past time is divided, showing how prevailing modes of periodization have evolved in the West. Part two of the book is concerned with the dynamics of change in European history. Each chapter considers a specific theoretical orientation, including: the commercial model initiated by Adam Smith and pursued by Henri Pirenne and others, the demographic model first formulated by Malthus, the Marxian model (or models), and the approaches of Weber and Sombart who identified religious forces as the chief engines of historical change. Part three addresses models of change being employed in world history, particularly the world-system approach of Frank and Wallerstein and the creative orientations of environmental historians. In his conclusion, Green returns to the question of whether the theoretical models of change currently in use among historians are consistent with contemporary modes of periodization. The bibliography is extensive.
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Examines the competing theoretical models that historians use to explain the process of change and continuity--including those of the great philosophers and contemporary environmental historians. Green emphasizes the importance of such systematic models for any true appreciation of the dynamic process of historical change.

Table of Contents

History and the Historian History: The Elusive Quarry The Framework of History The Dyamics of Historical Change: Europe Introduction: Search for a Governing Dynamic The Commercial Model The Demographic Model The Marxian Dynamic Weber, Sombart, and the Spirit of Capitalism The Dynamics of Historical Change: World History Introduction: The Global Perspective World-System Analysis Environmental History Summation: The Continuing Pursuit of Order Bibliography

About the Author

WILLIAM A. GREEN is Professor of History at Holy Cross College. He is author of British Slave Emancipation: The Sugar Colonies and the Great Experiment, 1830-1865 (1976). He has contributed to six books in European and imperial history and has written many articles for professional journals, including Comparative Studies in Society and History, The Economic History Review, The Journal of British Studies, Victorian Studies, Albion, The Journal of African History, The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, and The Journal of World History.

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