David Mytton

Book Review (3/5) – The Idea of History (R.G. Collingwood)

Published (updated: ) in Book Reviews.

Originally published on Goodreads.

Whilst there are some compelling ideas in this book, it is hard to read and not particularly clearly written. 

The majority of the book is a critique of various historians and approaches to history over the last few centuries going back to Ancient Greece and Rome. In many cases, prior knowledge of the works is assumed, which makes this challenging for those without a detailed knowledge of academic history. This is a shame because the idea of the idea of history is quite interesting to explore. 

The final section is an attempt by Collingwood to draw all the themes and critiques together into a central theory. He does manage this but is far too indirect and verbose. It is no doubt an academic theory of history by an academic for academics when it could easily have been made more accessible.