The Latest Catastrophe: History, The Present, The Contemporary

Paperback | July 6, 2016

byHenry RoussoTranslated byJane Marie Todd

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The writing of recent history tends to be deeply marked by conflict, by personal and collective struggles rooted in horrific traumas and bitter controversies. Frequently, today’s historians can find themselves researching the same events that they themselves lived through. This book reflects on the concept and practices of what is called “contemporary history,” a history of the present time, and identifies special tensions in the field between knowledge and experience, distance and proximity, and objectivity and subjectivity.

Henry Rousso addresses the rise of contemporary history and the relations of present-day societies to their past, especially their legacies of political violence. Focusing on France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, he shows that for contemporary historians, the recent past has become a problem to be solved. No longer unfolding as a series of traditions to be respected or a set of knowledge to be transmitted and built upon, history today is treated as a constant act of mourning or memory, an attempt to atone. Historians must also negotiate with strife within this field, as older scholars who may have lived through events clash with younger historians who also claim to understand the experiences. Ultimately, The Latest Catastrophe shows how historians, at times against their will, have themselves become actors in a history still being made.

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From the Publisher

The writing of recent history tends to be deeply marked by conflict, by personal and collective struggles rooted in horrific traumas and bitter controversies. Frequently, today’s historians can find themselves researching the same events that they themselves lived through. This book reflects on the concept and practices of what is call...

Henry Rousso is a senior researcher with the Institut d’histoire du temps présent at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique in Paris. He is the author or editor of many books, including The Vichy Syndrome: History and Memory in France since 1944. Jane Marie Todd is the translator of many books, including The Mountain: A Polit...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:July 6, 2016Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022616523X

ISBN - 13:9780226165233

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction “You Weren’t There!”
Chapter One Contemporaneity in the Past
Chapter Two War and the Time After
Chapter Three Contemporaneity at the Heart of Historicity
Chapter Four Our Time
Conclusion In the Face of the Tragic
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

“There is no better time than the present to be reading The Latest Catastrophe, no better historian than Rousso to introduce a concept by now so ubiquitous as to have escaped our consideration. In terms that are both philosophical and anecdotal, theoretical and emotionally charged, Rousso shows how the assumption of progress that once set the horizon for the writing of history has given way to a focus on the latest disaster. This is a profound meditation on the history of history that will find its place in the company of classic works by Marc Bloch, Tony Judt, and Paul Ricoeur.”