His most disputed work was “The Historian and History” (1964), a witty indictment of American historians. In the book he observed wryly that there were then 15 “trained and presumably productive” people with doctorates in the field for every year of the nation’s history.
That is far more than is necessary, he argued, especially when most were absurdly overspecialized, slavishly addicted to textbooks in their areas and [sic] foolishly pretended to objectivity.
Most highly touted “new interpretations,” he declared, are “often no better than the old, and not infrequently a good deal worse.”
Championing a story-telling approach to historical writing, he argued that “great history has always been narrative history, history with a story to tell that illuminates the truth of the human situation, that lifts spirits and prospects to new potentialities.”