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Dead certainties : unwarranted speculations

by Schama, Simon.

Format: Print Book 1991
Availability: Available at 2 Libraries 2 of 2 copies
Available (2)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Mezzanine - Non-fiction F73.25 .S33 1991
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Mezzanine - Non-fiction
Call Number  F73.25 .S33 1991
Shaler North Hills Library Non-Fiction 974.4 S
Location  Shaler North Hills Library
Collection  Non-Fiction
Call Number  974.4 S
Like hisThe Embarrassment of Richesand the bestsellingCitizens, Simon Schama's latest book is both history and literature of immense stylishness and ambition. ButDead Certaintiesgoes 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. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Schama, author of Citizens [BKL Mr 1 89], examines two cases in which tragic death and historical evidence have been linked and disputed. The death of English General James Wolfe while routing the French from Quebec in 1759 is the first and better-known instance; the murder of Boston real estate speculator George Parkman, whose body was discovered at Harvard Medical College with a chemistry professor charged with the crime, forms the second case in which rumor, evidence, and legend have obscured what really might have happened. The link between these two tales is historian Francis Parkman, who debunked the legend of Wolfe's death and who was the nephew of the deceased George Parkman. Schama aims in both instances to get to the real story by unconventional means; he becomes a literary detective in pinpointing suspects, outlining motives, checking alibis, and vetting competing versions. Going from the literal to the metaphorical in the blink of an eye, Schama seductively illustrates the fragile relationship between what is presented as truth and what is presented as history, with a nebulous boundary between the actual event and the story of that event. ~--John Brosnahan"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "In a virtuoso performance, Harvard historian Schama underscores the yawning abyss between experiential knowledge of an event and historical interpretations of it. In the book's first half, heroic British general James Wolfe, killed in the battle for Quebec in 1759, emerges as a neurotic monomaniac thirsty for glory. We glimpse his death thrice: through the eyes of a fear-racked soldier who took part in the battle; through American painter, Benjamin West, whose grandiloquent Death of General Wolfe won him an appointment as court history painter to King George II, and through Boston Brahmin historian Francis Parkman, who helped make Wolfe a patriotic martyr. The second half deals with the case of Parkman's mercurial Uncle George--exacting landlord, physician, authority on insane asylums--whose dismembered body parts were found at Harvard Medical College one week after he disappeared on Thanksgiving Day, 1849. Although a genial, expansive Harvard chemistry professor was hanged for the crime, the conflicting testimony presented here casts doubt on the verdict. Schama ( Citizens ) blends fact, speculation and fictitious dialogue in a chronicle as gripping as a good detective novel. Illustrations. BOMC and QPB alternates. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Wolfe, James, -- 1727-1759 -- Death and burial.
Parkman, Francis, -- 1823-1893 -- Death and burial.
Parkman, George, -- 1790-1849 -- Death and burial.
Death -- Social aspects -- Massachusetts -- Boston -- History.
Boston (Mass.) -- Biography.
Publisher New York :Knopf :1991
Distributed by Random House,
Edition 1st ed.
Language English
Description 333 pages, 1 unnumbered leaf of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 20 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 327-333).
ISBN 0679402136 :
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