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Extended Audio Sample The Purpose of the Past: Reflections on the Uses of History Audiobook, by Gordon S. Wood Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (114 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Gordon S. Wood Narrator: Malcolm Hillgartner Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2008 ISBN: 9781455189311
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History is to society what memory is to the individual—without it, we don’t know who we are and we can’t make wise decisions about our future. But while the nature of memory is constant, the nature of history has changed radically over the past forty years.

In The Purpose of the Past, historian Gordon S. Wood examines this sea change in his field through consideration of some of its most important historians and their works. Along the way, he offers wonderful insight into what great historians do, how they can stumble, and what strains of thought have dominated the marketplace of ideas in historical scholarship. The result is a history of American history—and an argument for its ongoing necessity.

A commanding assessment of the field by one of its masters, The Purpose of the Past will enlarge every reader’s capacity to appreciate history.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[Wood] possesses as profound a grasp of the early days of the Republic as anyone now working.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Essential reading for anyone who cares about history.”

    Washington Post

  • “Illuminating...[Wood’s] pitch-perfect erudition is legendary.” 

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Fruitful reading for academics and history buffs alike.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 James Tracy | 2/23/2013

    " Wood uses the occasion of the book review to expound on the various ways that history can be used and abused (frequently the latter). Thus book is methodologically rich but carries along with elegant and highly readable prose. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mscout | 2/26/2012

    " Only attempt if you are seriously ready to get your history geek on. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joshua | 8/11/2011

    " Chapter 10 "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 mike | 6/23/2011

    " Gordon Wood is an intellectual giant in my view. The essays in this book, most of which have been previously published, constitute all that I know about the topics under discussion. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bruce | 1/10/2011

    " This is a collection of Wood's book reviews over the years. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Janet | 3/4/2010

    " A well-chosen collection of Wood's reviews published over the past two decades. Through his choices, Wood summarizes recent historigraphical debates. A great summary for a history Ph.d student preparing for oral exams. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 christina | 2/13/2010

    " Some of the finest historiography out there says my friend at Northshire Books. "

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About the Author
Author Gordon S. Wood

Gordon S. Wood is the Alva O. Way University Professor and professor of history at Brown University. His 1969 book, The Creation of the American Republic 1776–1787, received the Bancroft and John H. Dunning prizes and was nominated for the National Book Award. His 1992 book, The Radicalism of the American Revolution, won the Pulitzer Prize and the Emerson Prize. Wood contributes regularly to the New Republic and the New York Review of Books.

About the Narrator

Malcolm Hillgartner is an actor, author, playwright, and professional narrator. Under the name Jahnna N. Malcolm, he and his wife, Jahnna Beecham, have written over one hundred books for young readers; their musicals have played in theaters across America. His audiobook credits include works by Dean Koontz, Nelson Algren, and William F. Buckley Jr. He has won four AudioFile Earphones Awards.