Review of Fred Inglis, History Man: The Life of R. G. Collingwood
Published in Books and Culture, Dec/Jan 2012
In An Autobiography, published in 1939 on the eve of World War II, English philosopher R. G. Collingwood (1889-1943) reflected on the historical legacy of World War I. “[A] war of unprece-dented ferocity,” wrote Collingwood, “closed in a peace-settlement of unprecedented folly, in which statesmanship, even purely selfish statesmanship, was overwhelmed by the meanest and most idiotic passions.” The war, Collingwood conceded, “was an unprecedented triumph for natural science,” a triumph that also “paved the way to other triumphs: improvements in transport, in sanitation, in surgery, medicine, and psychiatry, in commerce and industry, and, above all, in preparations for the next war.” The Treaty of Versailles had nevertheless failed, on Collingwood’s account, to restore the human side of affairs to any semblance of good order. The “power to control Nature” had overrun man’s “power to control human situations,” and the treaty gave way to a reign of natural sc
ience with the power to convert Europe “into a wilderness of Yahoos.” ….read more
History, On Proper Principles: Essays in Honor of Forrest McDonald
by Steven M. Klugewicz and Lenore T. Ealy
Publication Date: April 1, 2010
Few historians have been as prolific—or as controversial—as Forrest McDonald, who has spent his long career shattering myths and standing athwart the increasingly ideological approach of his fellow historians. Perhaps most notably, he overturned Charles Beard’s theories about the economic origins of the Constitution, which had dominated the historical profession for decades.
History, on Proper Principles is the first book to pay tribute to McDonald’s towering legacy. Here, a distinguished group of scholars honors McDonald with essays on the wide variety of topics the historian has addressed over the past half century—from the Constitution to economics, from Hamilton and Jefferson to Franklin Roosevelt, from the antebellum South to interwar America. Contributors include such noted intellectuals as Bruce Frohnen, Burton W. Folsom Jr., Richard K. Matthews, F. Thornton Miller, and C. Bradley Thompson.
The book also includes an unpublished piece by McDonald himself, which he delivered as his final public lecture. Finally, the insightful introduction by editors Stephen Klugewicz and Lenore Ealy provides the only intellectual biography of McDonald ever penned, covering his approach to writing history, his legacy, and even his apparent contradictions in thought.
History, on Proper Principles is not only a long-overdue tribute to a hugely influential figure in the field of history, but also a fascinating and important historical contribution in its own right.