What makes a good History book?

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What makes a good History book?

Unread postby talon1579 » Sat Nov 28, 2009 6:15 pm

So I have my interview to sudy history at the Uni of Oxford in 11 days (yikes) and would welcome any ideas on the matter in the title. Thanks.
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Re: What makes a good History book?

Unread postby Duncan » Tue Dec 01, 2009 6:00 pm

A few things I can think of (there are certainly more):

Information - It must be informative about the past - obvious point but some authors fail to include enough information to help you understand the period/location under discussion;
Credible reasoning - A well laid out argument that convinces you the author is broadly right;
Strong Narrative - A voice that leads you into the story and encourages you to continue reading (ie not wanting to throw the book across the room because of yet another tangent, or repetition of the same information);
Authority - Quotations wherever appropriate from original sources (or other eminent scholars), plus means of checking what sources were used to underpin assertions made;
Theoretical transparency - If proposing or supporting a particular school of thought in history, it should be reasonably easy to deduce fairly early on (preferably within the introductory paragraph). I find historians intensely irritating when they bury the crux of their argument in Chapter 12 and then spring their underpinning idea on you (usually a political spin)that they hope to convince you about given how much you have already read. I don't mind reading spin so long as I know I am doing it!

Good luck with your interview.
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