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Joey Kurtzman’s Jewcy Summer Book: That Noble Dream

If you've heard of Peter Novick, it's probably for his groundbreaking The Holocaust in American Life, which is a bit like the smart person's version of Normal Finkelstein's activist wankjob The Holocaust Industry. But while The Holocaust in American Life … Read More

By / July 16, 2007

If you've heard of Peter Novick, it's probably for his groundbreaking The Holocaust in American Life, which is a bit like the smart person's version of Normal Finkelstein's activist wankjob The Holocaust Industry. But while The Holocaust in American Life may be Novick's best-known book, his best one is That Noble Dream, a book that people should be laughed out of dinner parties for not having read. Yes, its subtitle is "The Objectivity Question and the American Historical Profession," not quite a description that'll get it a wide readership. And yes, it's a history of the discipline of history in the United States, not a topic of any intrinsic interest to most of us. But ultimately it's also a book about the struggle to think and write objectively on contentious issues—and also about the always busier struggle to persuade ourselves and others that we're doing so, even when we're not. On those crucially important topics, which haunt all public debate, all arguments in which you've ever gotten pissed off, and really everything that matters at all, this is the most illuminating book I've ever read.

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