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Resonances: Historical Essays on Continuity and Change
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We encourage readers to contribute with suggestions of good online applied historical analyses, recommendations for additional assignments and frameworks, or remarks that contest views posted here. In the earliest days of historical writing in Ancient Greece and Rome, Herodotus, Thucydides, Polybius, and others viewed history as a vital teacher for statesmen. Into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, historical knowledge maintained a central place in strategy and statesmanship, inspiring such leaders as Otto von Bismarck and Winston Churchill.
In more recent times, however, the history-policy relationship has atrophied. Applied history is the explicit attempt to illuminate current challenges and choices by analyzing historical precedents and analogues. Mainstream historians begin with a past event or era and attempt to provide an account of what happened and why. Applied historians begin with a current choice or predicament and attempt to analyze the historical record to provide perspective, stimulate imagination, find clues about what is likely to happen, suggest possible policy interventions, and assess probable consequences.
It might be said that applied history is to mainstream history as medical practice is to biochemistry, or engineering to physics. But that analogy is not quite right, as in the realm of science there is mutual respect between practitioners and theorists. In the realm of policy, by contrast, one finds a culture of mutual contempt between practitioners and historians. Applied history is an attempt to address that.
Their book Thinking in Time , published in , provides the foundation on which we intend to build. An urgently needed companion volume might be titled Acting in Time.
Over the past decade, particularly as one of us was engaged in research for a biography of Henry Kissinger, we shared a humbling epiphany. Speaking about his book, Doomed to Succeed: The U. He failed to heed warnings that the predictable consequence of this choice would be a Shiite-dominated Baghdad beholden to the Shiite champion in the Middle East—Iran. Indeed, in attempting to explain the consequences of this fateful choice, one of the leaders from the region is reported to have told President Bush that if he cut down the tallest tree in the region Saddam , he should not be surprised when he found the second tallest tree towering over the others.
The problem is by no means limited to the Middle East or to Bush.
Metamorphosis. The Continuity of Change. by docomomo slovenija - Issuu
Within two months Russia had annexed Crimea. While this history deficit is only one of the weaknesses in the foreign policy of recent administrations of both parties, it is one that is more amenable to repair than most. Yet to address this deficit it is not enough for a president occasionally to invite friendly historians to dinner, as Obama has been known to do. Nor is it enough to appoint a court historian, as John F. Kennedy did with Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. We urge the candidates currently running for president to announce now that, if elected, they will establish a White House Council of Historical Advisers analogous to the Council of Economic Advisers established after World War II.
Several eminent historians made similar recommendations to Presidents Carter and Reagan during their administrations: the checkered record of U.
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