MAKING HISTORY by E.P. Thompson

MAKING HISTORY

Writings on History and Culture
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 There's a double entendre, likely intended, in the title. Thompson (The Heavy Dancers, 1985, etc.), who died in 1993, was a leading Marxist historian and a major figure of the British left. Many of his academic colleagues felt that they were making history in the sense that Shelly had in mind when he spoke of poets being the legislators of the world. This collection boasted the more confident title People and Polemics when it was originally published in the UK. Thompson was a man of wide interests, who could write with enthusiasm about Mary Wollstonecraft, Romantic poets, the differences between the disciplines of history and anthropology, and nuclear disarmament. Still, the last essay in the book, ``Agenda for Radical History,'' finds him writing: ``I have to say honestly, without any sense of particular criticism, or of any large theoretical statement, that I'm less and less interested in Marxism as a Theoretical System.'' The overriding inclination of Thompson's thinking is empirical, not systematic. This renders him an effective tonic against the self-satisfaction of those who believe that Communism fell because Capitalism, or the West, represents the best of all possible worlds. If it's true that history is written by the victors, Thompson should be read before his voice is drowned out by crass triumphalism. *justify no*  There's a double entendre, likely intended, in the title. Thompson (The Heavy Dancers, 1985, etc.), who died in 1993, was a leading Marxist historian and a major figure of the British left. Many of his academic colleagues felt that they were making history in the sense that Shelly had in mind when he spoke of poets being the legislators of the world. This collection boasted the more confident title People and Polemics when it was originally published in the UK. Thompson was a man of wide interests, who could write with enthusiasm about Mary Wollstonecraft, Romantic poets, the differences between the disciplines of history and anthropology, and nuclear disarmament. Still, the last essay in the book, ``Agenda for Radical History,'' finds him writing: ``I have to say honestly, without any sense of particular criticism, or of any large theoretical statement, that I'm less and less interested in Marxism as a Theoretical System.'' The overriding inclination of Thompson's thinking is empirical, not systematic. This renders him an effective tonic against the self-satisfaction of those who believe that Communism fell because Capitalism, or the West, represents the best of all possible worlds. If it's true that history is written by the victors, Thompson should be read before his voice is drowned out by crass triumphalism. *justify no*  There's a double entendre, likely intended, in the title. Thompson (The Heavy Dancers, 1985, etc.), who died in 1993, was a leading Marxist historian and a major figure of the British left. Many of his academic colleagues felt that they were making history in the sense that Shelly had in mind when he spoke of poets being the legislators of the world. This collection boasted the more confident title People and Polemics when it was originally published in the UK. Thompson was a man of wide interests, who could write with enthusiasm about Mary Wollstonecraft, Romantic poets, the differences between the disciplines of history and anthropology, and nuclear disarmament. Still, the last essay in the book, ``Agenda for Radical History,'' finds him writing: ``I have to say honestly, without any sense of particular criticism, or of any large theoretical statement, that I'm less and less interested in Marxism as a Theoretical System.'' The overriding inclination of Thompson's thinking is empirical, not systematic. This renders him an effective tonic against the self-satisfaction of those who believe that Communism fell because Capitalism, or the West, represents the best of all possible worlds. If it's true that history is written by the victors, Thompson should be read before his voice is drowned ou

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1-56584-216-2
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: New Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1994




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