How History Is Invented
Age Range: 10 & up
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 The recently escalating controversy over Columbus as personality and historical force makes him the perfect subject for this examination of the making of historical record. After a fine introduction exploring the reasons that so little is known about him and the grounds for the debate, Pelta summarizes the agreed-on facts of his life and embarks on her main theme--the nature of what's known and how it has been elaborated on over time. She describes the sources used and prejudices exhibited in the five accounts dating from the century after Columbus's death; then explains how after a century of obscurity, the first English translation of Ferdinand Columbus's biography (in 1744) and the new United States' need for their own hero combined to create a surge of adulation and interest, to be further fueled in the 19th century by Washington Irving's less than-accurate life. Pelta explores the ubiquity of Columbus's name in the New World, describes modern scholarship (including underwater archeology and computer-directed voyages), emphasizes the importance of pre- Columbians, and concludes with prospects for future research, lucidly pointing out the difference between recycled secondary sources and new information. An excellent introduction to historiography, and to using and evaluating sources of any kind. Photos and historical reproductions (most, but not all, well captioned); fine bibliographical essay (though ages levels are largely omitted); index. (Nonfiction. 10+)

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1991
ISBN: 0-8225-4899-2
Page count: 112pp
Publisher: Lerner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1991