February 16, 2015 at 2:40 am #56920scout1067Participant
I have been thinking about this recently. How long ago does an event have to ave happened before a decent history of it can be written? This came up reference the war in Iraq 2003-3011. There have been several histories written of the war, some while the fighting was ongoing and all of those I have read are deeply flawed to one degree or another. It seems as if the events are so fresh that it i impossible for a good analytic history of them to be written.
I think an event has to be generally 10 years or more in the past for a good history to be written. That allows time for passions to cool and for a largely objective approach to the topic to be at hand.
What say you?February 16, 2015 at 3:55 pm #56931PhidippidesKeymaster
There is probably no single right answer. If we take the example of the Iraq War, it may have technically ended but the geopolitical questions that directly result from it may remain more than a decade. A better history book on the war might therefore not be written until 2030 or so. Likewise, 9/11 caused effects that will need to be examined in better context perhaps 20 years down the road. The invasion of Iraq is also an ongoing point of contention that seems to shape present-day politics, so the passions of today could very well influence current writing on that topic.
But depending on the type of history we’re talking about, I think that fewer than 10 years might suffice. For example, if the text is on a topic which doesn’t involve widespread ramifications, or which is local, less time might be needed to write a good book.
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