Monday, April 16, 2007

The Craft of International History

Marc Trachtenberg, Univ. of California, Los Angeles
Princeton Univ. Press 2006
This is a practical guide to the historical study of international politics. The focus is on the nuts and bolts of historical research--that is, on how to use original sources, analyze and interpret historical works, and actually write a work of history. Two appendixes provide sources sure to be indispensable for anyone doing research in this area.

The book does not simply lay down precepts. It presents examples drawn from the author's more than forty years' experience as a working historian. One important chapter, dealing with America's road to war in 1941, shows in unprecedented detail how an interpretation of a major historical issue can be developed. The aim throughout is to throw open the doors of the workshop so that young scholars, both historians and political scientists, can see the sort of thought processes the historian goes through before he or she puts anything on paper. Filled with valuable examples, this is a book anyone serious about conducting historical research will want to have on the bookshelf.

Marc Trachtenberg is Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of a number of works on twentieth-century international politics, most notably A Constructed Peace: The Making of the European Settlement, 1945 to 1963.
"Marc Trachtenberg has written a comprehensive, how-to manual for doing international history. There is nothing available like it."--Steven Van Evera, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"This is an important book, without question. It provides an extremely useful guide for graduate and undergraduate students who want to know more about thinking about international politics and conducting and presenting research. There is nothing in print that speaks as clearly and persuasively to students."--William Stueck, University of Georgia, author of The Korean War: An international History (Princeton)

Table of Contents:
CHAPTER ONE: The Theory of Historical Inquiry 1
CHAPTER TWO: Diplomatic History and International Relations Theory 30
CHAPTER THREE: The Critical Analysis of Historical Texts 51
CHAPTER FOUR: Developing an Interpretation through Textual Analysis: The 1941 Case 79
CHAPTER FIVE: Working with Documents 140
CHAPTER SIX: Starting a Project 169
CHAPTER SEVEN: Writing It Up 183
APPENDIX I: Identifying the Scholarly Literature 199
APPENDIX II: Working with Primary Sources 217

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