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Marc Bloch Review

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Bloch, Marc; The Historian’s Craft, translated by Putnam, Peter; New York: Vintage Books; 1953.197 pp.
Marc Bloch, the French historian, a founder of the Annales School of historical thought, murdered by the German Gestapo in 1944 as part of the French Resistance to the Vichy government, in his “memorandum of a craftsman,” attained two goals. The first goal he accomplished was to defend and elucidate why one should study history, and the second goal was to expound how one should study history. Though he wasn’t able to finish this book but we can say that this book was successful in creating an image of history by introducing it to a whole new height of prominence from the beginning phase.
“Tell me, Daddy. What is the use of history?” His famous opening lines gave an expression of a meaningful occasion in Bloch’s, and all humankind’s too. It seems that throughout the book he is trying to justify the ‘use’ of history by stating that it’s nothing but understanding and then application. He looked at the techniques of historical inquiry. He believed that history did provide entertainment and comfort although it was also serious and academic at the same time. He believed that it’s necessary for historians to prove themselves as a profession by good observation and transmitting common sense and history as a “legitimate form of knowledge” and proficient in nourishing the intellect as it is narrative and poetic too. It is this searching for legitimacy that takes us back to the empiricists, the school of thought Bloch is attempting to transcend. This school produced a history based solely around documentation and did not challenge documents, primary sources or “official” histories. Bloch emphasized the inquiry of the historian in their sources and the way they frame the history and set out to write. Cross-examination of sources is important. The historian must seek an...

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