Dead Certainties by Simon Schama
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Synopsis

Like his The Embarrassment of Riches and the bestselling Citizens, Simon Schama's latest book is both history and literature of immense stylishness and ambition. But Dead Certainties goes beyond these more conventional histories to address the deeper enigmas that confront a student of the past. In order to do so, Schama reconstructs -- and at times reinvents -- two ambiguous deaths: the first, that of General James Wolfe at the battle of Quebec in 1759; the second, in 1849, that of George Parkman, an eccentric Boston brahmin whose murder by an impecunious Harvard professor in 1849 was a grisly reproach to the moral sanctity of his society. Out of these stories -- with all of their bizarre coincidences and contradictions -- Schama creates a dazzling and supremely vital work of historical imagination.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Simon Schama

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Simon Schama is the prize-winning author of seven acclaimed books. An art critic and essayist for The New Yorker, he also writes and presents documentaries for BBC television. He is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University and lives outside New York City.From the Trade Paperback edition.
 
Published January 1, 1991 by Granta. 352 pages
Genres: History, Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Dead Certainties

Kirkus Reviews

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Here, forsaking reliance on historical documentation for a looser, more novelistic approach, Schama tells how Parkman hounded the hapless Webster over some debts, how Parkman disappeared, and how a man who detested Webster discovered the grisly remains of a corpse in the cellar of the medical sch...

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Publishers Weekly

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In a virtuoso performance, Harvard historian Schama underscores the yawning abyss between experiential knowledge of an event and historical interpretations of it. In the book's first half, heroic Brit

Apr 01 1991 | Read Full Review of Dead Certainties: Unwarranted...

Publishers Weekly

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through American painter, Benjamin West, whose grandiloquent Death of General Wolfe won him an appointment as court history painter to King George II, and through Boston Brahmin historian Francis Parkman, who helped make Wolfe a patriotic martyr.

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Publishers Weekly

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In a virtuoso performance, Harvard historian Schama ( Citizens ) underscores the abyss between experiential knowledge of an event and historical interpretations of it.

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Entertainment Weekly

In the first of two ''tales,'' Schama focuses on the British General James Wolfe, who perished during the Battle of Quebec in 1759 and was later deified in Benjamin West's mythic canvas, The Death of General Wolfe.

May 31 1991 | Read Full Review of Dead Certainties: Unwarranted...

London Review of Books

‘Good novels,’ it said, ‘are written by people who make it their main business to write novels.’ But I do not mind that Schama, whose previous books have shown that he knows how to hold the attention of large numbers of readers, is not primarily interested in the writing of novels.

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