Modern relativism and postmodern thought in culture and language challenge the 'truth' of history. This book considers how all historians, confined by the concepts and forms of argument of their own cultures, can still discover truths about the past.
The Truth of History presents a study of various historical explanations and interpretations and evaluates their success as accounts of the past. C. Behan McCullagh contests that the variety of historical interpretations and subjectivity does not exclude the possibility of their truth. Through an examination of the constraints of history, the author argues that although historical descriptions do not mirror the past they can correlate with it in a regular and definable way.
Far from debating in the abstract and philosophical only, the author beds his argument in numerous illuminating concrete historical examples. The Truth of History explores a new position between the two extremes of believing that history perfectly represents the past and that history can tell us nothing true of the past.
"[A] solid, clearly argued defense of the truth of historical claims and the validity of conventional historical practices....McCullagh's book is a contribution to the restoration of much-needed balance in our understanding of truth in history."
-"Journal of American History
""The Truth of History is the kind of book that teachers of historiography and the philosophy of history have long waited for. In this lucid work, Behan McCullagh shows the reader what riches can result when philosophy and history are drawn together...."
-Marnie Hughes-Warrington, University of Washington
"The considerable strengths of the book come from the thoroughness of the discussions, the judiciousness of the arguments, and, most of all, from the wide range of sources and examples he employs. McCullagh has gone to great lengths to find appropriate exemplifications of his points and to discuss actual cases of particular arguments and the use of particular theories. I believe hisbook will become a standard work, notable for its scholarship and careful, well written, arguments."
-Christopher Lloyd, University of California at Davis
"This book is rich and complex ... "The Truth of History is a good book that raises the right questions ...."