Friday, August 10, 2018

Lynn Hunt

Lynn Hunt is Distinguished Research Professor at UCLA and the author of numerous popular and scholarly history books. Her latest book is History: Why it Matters.

Recently I asked Hunt about what she was reading. Her reply:
I just finished Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August (1962), a history of the outbreak of World War I in 1914. Although it’s long and supposedly outdated, it remains a perennial favorite with readers for good reasons. I found it gripping. Tuchman puts most of us professional historians to shame; she manages to make the often dreary history of diplomatic maneuvering fascinating and tells the story of the first battles of the war in a way that captures the drama, uncertainty, pathos, terror and horror of events. I have talked about the war in my class on the history of Western civilization, but after reading her, I will change my approach to put at least some emphasis on how the invasion of Belgium by the Germans changed everything, bringing in the British, however reluctantly, to the side of the French, and providing an opening to a change of opinion in the United States, which would prove crucial in the end. Tuchman had an amazing ability to bring characters to life. As an historian, I think I’ve been good at analysis of events but at characterizing individuals who made a difference, not very good at all. But leaving aside all that, this book is just a great read that helps us understand one of the formative events of our time.
Learn more about Lynn Hunt and Why History Matters.

The Page 99 Test: Writing History in the Global Era.

--Marshal Zeringue