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Dead Certainties: Unwarranted Speculations - Softcover

 
9780140140422: Dead Certainties: Unwarranted Speculations
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Simon Schama, the author of "The Embarrassment of Riches" and "Citizens", sets out to tell the history of two certainties, of two deaths. In discussing the "speculations" surrounding them, he finds himself involved in a history he cannot classify - the unpredictable history of stories. On 13 September 1759, General James Wolfe, having led the British troops up the St Lawrence to victory in the Battle of Quebec, died on the Heights of Abraham. Schama examines this death, and how Wolfe was made to die again - through the spectacular painting by Benjamin West, and through the writings of the 19th-century historian Francis Parkman. Schama's second death concerns Parkman's uncle, George Parkman of Harvard Medical College, who disappeared in 1849 in mysterious circumstances and who was rumoured to have been murdered by a colleague. Through these incidents, Schama sheds light on the writing of history, the history of history, and the relationship of "story" to "history".

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Like his The Embarrassment of Riches and the bestselling Citizens, Simon Schama's latest book is both history and literature of immense stylishness and ambition. But Dead Certainties goes beyond these more conventional histories to address the deeper enigmas that confront a student of the past. In order to do so, Schama reconstructs -- and at times reinvents -- two ambiguous deaths: the first, that of General James Wolfe at the battle of Quebec in 1759; the second, in 1849, that of George Parkman, an eccentric Boston brahmin whose murder by an impecunious Harvard professor in 1849 was a grisly reproach to the moral sanctity of his society. Out of these stories -- with all of their bizarre coincidences and contradictions -- Schama creates a dazzling and supremely vital work of historical imagination.
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From the Back Cover:
"An infinitely beguiling book...a mind-teasing delight...Schama brings to bear an immense array of narrative elements."

-- The New York Times Book Review

"Intriguing and provocative... Dead Certainties inspires us throughout to examine our own assumptions about history and fiction"-- Newsday

"A virtuoso performance... in Schama's hands the past loses its remoteness and takes on the noise and clutter of experience....He has become one of the few contemporary historians who are read as much for themselves as for their subjects."

-- Andrew Delbanco, New Republic

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  • PublisherVintage Books
  • Publication date1992
  • ISBN 10 0140140425
  • ISBN 13 9780140140422
  • BindingPaperback
  • Number of pages352
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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780679736134: Dead Certainties: Unwarranted Speculations

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ISBN 10:  0679736131 ISBN 13:  9780679736134
Publisher: Vintage, 1992
Softcover

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    Granta..., 2001
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  • 9780679402138: Dead Certainties: (Unwarranted Speculations)

    Knopf, 1991
    Hardcover

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  • 9781862071353: Dead Certainties : Unwarranted Speculations

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