ABOUT THIS BOOK
Those concerned with the practice of history as a discipline and as an intellectual activity will be intrigued by the view of history that François Furet offers in this collection of essays. After twenty-five years as a professional historian at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes and in the ranks of the Annales school, Furet sets out to reexamine the methodological and intellectual cleavages that exist today among historians.
Furet views history as a field bounded at each end by two ideal types. One end is concerned with the history of periods and with the empiricism of "facts" rather than received ideas. At the other end is problem-oriented history, which substitutes for the supposed coherence of a "period" the analytical examination of a question. Furet's own work leans toward the second, more conceptually oriented kind of historiography. The essays in this volume, most of them never before published in English, illustrate the breadth of his approach. Furet's discussion ranges through Tocqueville's conceptual system to present-day America, from the origins of history in France to the Jewish experience in the late twentieth century. Among Furet's recurrent themes is the contention that the historian constructs the object or field of his research rather than receiving it from the past.