Keith Windschuttle argued that today’s history is tainted by literary and social theorists who lack real training, and he believed that these contemporary historians obscure the facts on which historical truth is built. He offered several case studies to prove his point, including the conquest of America, the founding of Australia, medieval expansion, and the fall of Communism. Each study demonstrated how radical theory replaced traditional history. He also included a lengthy chapter on Foucault. Windschuttle ultimately argued that relativism produces a tribalism that harms historical fact. He summed up his belief by stating that “the study of history is essentially a search for the truth. … A work that does not aim at truth may be many things but not a work of history.”
Windschuttle’s book was well-organized and fascinating. By using interesting case studies, his approach to attacking postmodernism was fresh and effective. His passion sometimes carries him a bit too far, but he is right on many points. He presented an articulate and balanced attack on postmodernist theory. His book was aimed for academic readers, but it could easily be read by a wider audience. Although Windschuttle did not include as many endnotes as his other contemporaries, the amount of endnotes was adequate per chapter, but most were based on secondary sources. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
– Hannah S. Bowers
Windschuttle, Keith. The Killing of History: How Literary Critics and Social Theorists are Murdering Our Past. New York: The Free Press, 1996.