Eric Foner - Who Owns History?

from the publisher:
"History," wrote James Baldwin, "does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do."

Rarely has Baldwin's insight been more forcefully confirmed than in our current conflict-ridden times. History itself has become a matter of public controversy as Americans clash over the way it is represented in museums, in the flying of the Confederate flag, or in the proposals for paying reparations for slavery. So whose history is being written? Who owns it?

In Who Owns History? Eric Foner proposes his answers to these and other questions about the historian's relationship to the world of the past and the future. He reconsiders his own earlier ideas and those of the pathbreaking historian Richard Hofstadter. He also examines international changes during the past two decades -- globalization, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of apartheid in South Africa -- and their effects on historical consciousness. He concludes with new considerations of the enduring but often misunderstood legacies of slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction.

This provocative, even controversial, book tells us of the many reasons we care about history -- or should.

"Eric Foner is rightly ranked among our era's most distinguished historians. In Who Owns History? he takes on some of the most contentious issues in the American past while candidly describing his own intellectual journeys, and often brilliantly illuminating the nature of the historian's craft." --David M. Kennedy, Stanford University

"Who Owns History? introduces readers to one of the country's finest historians, Eric Foner, writing about issues more critical to American public life today than ever before." --Joyce Appleby, University of California, Los Angeles

"Who Owns History? offers the reader engaging essays that address significant issues in lucid prose accessible to the general reader as well as students and scholars. Above all, the book carries and conveys what I call 'moral weight,' which is one of Eric Foner's notable gifts as a historian." --Michael Kammen, Cornell University

Eric Foner is DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University. He is the author of many highly acclaimed works in American history, notably The Story of American Freedom and Reconstruction. He lives in New York City.