In the past thirty years, historians have broadened the scope of their discipline to include many previously neglected topics and perspectives. They have chronicled language, madness, gender, and sexuality and have experimented with new forms of presentation. They have turned to the histories of n-Western peoples and to the troubled relations between the West and the rest. Allan Megill welcomes these developments, but he also suggests that there is w confusion among historians about what counts as a justified account of the past. In Historical Kwledge, Historical Error , Megill dispels some of the confusion. Here, he discusses issues of narrative, objectivity, and memory. He attacks what he sees as irresponsible uses of evidence while accepting the art of speculation, which incomplete evidence forces upon historians. Along the way, he offers succinct accounts of the epistemological road historians have traveled from Herodotus and Thucydides through Leopold von Ranke and Alexis de Tocqueville, and on to Hayden White, Natalie Zemon Davis, and Lynn Hunt.
Allan Megill is professor of history at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Prophets of Extremity: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, Derrida and Karl Marx: The Burden of Reason (Why Marx Rejected Politics and the Market), and coeditor of Rethinking Objectivity.