Elizabeth Rechniewski, of the University of Sydney has reviewed Henry Rousso’s 2012 book, La dernière catastrophe: l’histoire, le présent, le contemporain.
Henry Rousso’s essay offers a wide-ranging reflection on what it means to write the ‘history of the present’ a field which, in recent decades, has moved from the margins of history to its very centre. His aim is to trace the evolution of the ‘history of the present’– the forms it has taken and the problems it has posed over the centuries, and poses now. In his first chapter Rousso outlines the historiography of the history of the present: he explores what it meant to write this history in classical times, in the Middle Ages, and in the ‘modern’ era – a period which, he notes, is open to uncertain dating. The principal focus of the book, however, is to trace and explain the emergence of a particular form of ‘the history of the present’ from the 1970s on, with a focus on the French, German, English and American historical fields (although, understandably, the French field receives most attention)…continue reading