11 February 2009

Foner On Remaking History

"In the course of the past twenty years, American history has been remade. Inspired initially by the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s – which shattered the ‘consensus’ vision that had dominated historical writing – and influenced by new methods borrowed from other disciplines, American historians redefined the very nature of historical study." ~ Eric Foner (Emphasis mine)

Most readers who study the WBTS, whether seriously or casually, are familiar with the work of Eric Foner, at least to some extent. He is a widely known and respected historian, for the most part anyway. Foner is, however, not without his critics. Several years ago, I'd read a piece in National Review written by another historian, Ronald Radosh, which was critical of Foner's leftist ideology and its influence on his work, something to which Foner readily admits. I stumbled across that piece again recently. Oddly enough, both Foner and Ronald Radosh are children of card-carrying Communists; aka "red diaper babies." Radosh's piece can be read here.

While some readers will no doubt roll their eyes at this post, I would encourage you to read Radosh's article. It is quite revealing and, I believe, a fair criticism of Foner's approach to history. I post this, in part, due to some who criticize the right for politicizing history. As I stated, Foner admits this yet draws little criticism from his peers.


Jubilo said...

Dear Old Dominion,
I read with interest the article by Radosh . It seems bizarre that to cure America's ills Foner turned to the Soviet Union but loathing of one's own country is a topic George Orwell addresses in one of his essays. A curious phenomenon .
You're getting so intellectual I fear you're gettin' above your raisin' , son !
David Corbett

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Hello David, thanks for stopping by. Yes, it is quite curious, isn't it? Especially when one looks at how well the Soviet experiment worked out.

As I noted, what is even more curious to me is how many academics overlook Foner's admission of leftist influence in his approach to history, while they slam other individuals and groups (like the SCV), for politicizing history. I think we have a credibility issue here, do we not? The critics seem to be rather selective in their concern over the politicization of history. I suppose leftist politicization is acceptable.