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Essaying the Past: How to Read, Write and Think about History, 2nd Edition

ISBN: 978-1-118-29265-5
224 pages
June 2012, Wiley-Blackwell
Essaying the Past: How to Read, Write and Think about History, 2nd Edition (1118292650) cover image
The second edition of Essaying the Past features a variety of updates and enhancements to further its standing as an indispensible resource to all aspects of researching and writing historical essays.
  • Includes expert advice on writing about history, conducting good research, and learning how to think analytically
  • Includes a new chapter addressing common situations that represent steps in the transition from a rough first draft to a final version
  • Covers important topics such as framing questions, developing a strong introduction and topic sentences, choosing good evidence, and the crucial role of revision
  • Includes an annotated case study that takes the reader through one student’s process of writing an essay, illustrating how strategies in the text can be successfully implemented
  • New edition features updates to cultural references, a newly written preface, and reorganized table of contents
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Acknowledgments ix

Preface to the Second Edition xii

Introduction to the Student: Why Would You Look at a Book Like This? 1

Part I Thinking and Reading About History 5

1. History: It’s About Time 7

2. What’s the Story with History? 14

3. Th e Sources of History 21

4. Good Answers Begin with Good Questions 30

5. Search Engines, Research Ingenuity 37

6. How to Read a Book without Ever Getting to Chapter One 47

Part II Writing About History 61

7. Analysis: Th e Intersection of Reading and Writing 63

8. Making a Case: An Argument in Three Parts 72

9. Defi ning Introductions 80

10. Strong Bodies (I): Th e Work of Topic Sentences 92

11. Strong Bodies (II): Exposition and Evidence 101

12. Strong Bodies (III): Counterargument and Counterevidence 112

13. Surprising Conclusions 120

14. Scaling the Summit: Crystallizing Your Argument 127

15. Writing is Rewriting: Th e Art of Revision 132

16. Putting It All Together: Th e Research Essay (A Case Study) 140

Conclusion: The Love of History 160

Appendices

A Writing an Essay: Ten Easy Steps in Review 164

B Essay Varieties: DBQs, Reviews, and Comparison Assignments 166

C Let’s Give a Hand: Bibliographies and Footnotes 173

D Credit Scams: Th e Dangers of Plagiarism 184

E Web of Lies? Weighing the Internet 189

F A Glossary of Key Terms 193

G More Reading About Writing 198

Index 200

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Jim Cullen teaches history at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in New York City. Cullen, a former Preceptor in the Expository Writing Program at Harvard University, is the author of several books, including The American Dream: A Short History of an Idea that Shaped a Nation (2003) and the forthcoming, provisionally titled Sensing the Past: Hollywood Actors as Historians.
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  • Includes expert advice on writing about history, conducting good research, and learning how to think analytically
  • Includes a new chapter addressing common situations that represent steps in the transition from a rough first draft to a final version
  • Covers important topics such as framing questions, developing a strong introduction and topic sentences, choosing good evidence, and the crucial role of revision
  • Includes an annotated case study that takes the reader through one student’s process of writing an essay, illustrating how strategies in the text can be successfully implemented
  • New edition features updates to cultural references, a newly written preface, and reorganized table of contents
  • See More

    Praise for the first edition:

    “There's a level of sophistication in Essaying the Past that is disguised by its utterly clear and engaging style. Jim Cullen tells students just what they need to know to write about the past.”
    Mari Jo Buhle, Brown University

    “The ultimate insider’s guide to historical writing, the new gold standard in the field.”
    Kerry Walk, Otis College of Art and Design


    Praise for the second edition:

    “Newly revised and better than ever, Essaying the Past remains the single most useful resource for history students and instructors in high school and college.”
    Burke Miller, Northern Kentucky University

    “Jim Cullen presents a compelling case for the historical essay as a tool of learning and plots the course for success with a rare combination of clarity, sophistication, humor, and easy candor.”
    James E. Wadsworth, Stonehill College

    “A clear, concise and engaging guide to the practice of history. Jim Cullen excels in walking students through all the steps of researching and writing a persuasive paper.”
    Carter Jones Meyer, Ramapo College of New Jersey

    “In this first-rate book, Jim Cullen delivers a concise and accessible guide to the critical work that historians do: reading, writing, and thinking about history. Students will find it informative and a pleasure to read.”
    Elizabeth Smith-Pryor, Kent State University

    “With lucidity, verve, and empathy, Cullen lays the writing process bare, including fumbles, setbacks, and paths not taken. In analyzing the writing of history, he also shows why it matters.”
    Roberta Pergher, The University of Kansas

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