James Banner Jr.

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I have had a varied career--first as a research university faculty member at Princeton, then as an association executive, book publisher, and foundation officer. That is, I've been part of the history community from inside and outside the academy and have observed its members' practices and aspirations from many perspectives. Originally a specialist in the history of the United States between roughly 1765 and 1865--a specialty that I've maintained--I taught European as well as American history and have roamed widely in American and other histories in the conviction that only in that way can I understand my own country and its past. In recent years, I have turned my attention to teaching and learning generally (with two book, co-authored with Harold C. Cannon, The Elements of Teaching and The Elements of Learning), to the recent history of the discipline of history (in a set of essay-length memoirs, co-commissioned and co-edited with John R. Gillis, Becoming Historians), and most recently with Becoming Historians, the last work an assessment of the state of the discipline today and an implicit criticism of our mis-preparation and under-preparation of historians. Currently, I am at work on a book, tentatively titled Battles Over the Past, about revisionist history--why we have and always have had revisionist history and why re-interpretations of the past are built into the very intellectual fabric of history. Along the way, I explain, in this book for general readers, what historians do, for without knowledge of what historians are up to, their never-ending arguments about the past cannot be understood.