Pattern and Repertoire in History

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9780674007390: Pattern and Repertoire in History

Historical landmarks, such as wars, coups, and revolutions, seem to arise under unique conditions. Indeed, what seems to distinguish history from the natural and social sciences is its inability to be dissected or generalized in any meaningful way. Yet even complex and large-scale events like the American Revolutionary War and the French Revolution can be broken down into their component parts, and, as Bertrand Roehner and Tony Syme show, these smaller modules are rarely unique to the events they collectively compose.

The aim of this book is to analyze clusters of similar "elementary" occurrences that serve as the building blocks of more global events. Making connections between seemingly unrelated case studies, Roehner and Syme apply scientific methodology to the analysis of history. Their book identifies the recurring patterns of behavior that shape the histories of different countries separated by vast stretches of time and space. Taking advantage of a broad wealth of historical evidence, the authors decipher what may be seen as a kind of genetic code of history.

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About the Author:

Bertrand M. Roehner is Professor, University of Paris.

Review:

A superb book.
--John Markoff, University of Pittsburgh

Roehner and Syme have written an original, idea-filled, illustration-rich analysis of causal sequences that repeat themselves in surprisingly different historical niches. Coming at history from the perspective of the natural sciences, they challenge both extremes: historical particularism, on the on side, and the search for general laws covering complex historical episodes, on the other...Good ideas, analogies, and illustrations come swirling and densely packed, leaving a lot of standard historical terrain littered with debris.
--Charles Tilly, Columbia University

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