Earlier this month I realized that our nation’s founders declared independence by presenting two explanations of their choice, and showing one to fit the evidence better than the other. That’s a thesis statement.Continue reading
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Update: thesis statement template
I have updated “A Thesis Statement Template” to show the thesis statements as they appear in the original works, as well as the theses in template format. The Princeton Guide to Historical Research, 285-286, features four passages from other historians that fit the template without any modification by me.
History audiobooks, 2021 edition
In 2021, I listened to forty-one audiobooks that covered history, broadly defined. Some of these I had skimmed earlier, but this was my first time reading them straight through. While trade presses still dominate the audio realm, it’s great to see an increasing number of university presses releasing titles.
Publication details come from Google Books. Please let me know if you spot any errors, such as the date of the paperback in place of the original publication date.
Edit, January 5, 2022. Here are links to previous lists:
A History Professor’s Guide to Audible.com, 2013.
A History Professor’s Guide to Audible.com, 2019 editionContinue reading
How to share a primary source
I have posted a new page on this website: How to Share a Primary Source, with tips for researchers, teachers, students, and public historians.
Scrivener for Historians
In April 2021, I recorded a six-part series, “Scrivener for Historians,” which I then forgot to make fully public on YouTube. I’ve now set it to public, and here’s the link.
5 Paragraphs in Defense of 5 Paragraphs
Inside Higher Ed has published my essay, “5 Paragraphs in Defense of 5 Paragraphs.” Among the other claims, I write that “five-paragraph essays also serve as building blocks for longer works. Three body paragraphs are enough to get students thinking about how one idea relates to the next, as well as to signal those relationships with appropriate transition words and phrases. Once students have mastered that skill, they are ready to assemble those blocks into larger structures.”
Readers may note that The Princeton Guide to Historical Research has five parts.
The Princeton Guide to Historical Research is here!
The Princeton Guide to Historical Research is now on sale! It is priced at only $24.95 in paperback, and through August 31, 2021, use the code ZS30 to get a 30 percent discount. Ebook and audiobook versions are also available.
Watch this site for additional thoughts on the craft of researching and writing history.
It Takes Two: Combining English and History to Team Teach Narrative Writing
My Mason colleague Scott W. Berg and I have an essay in this month’s Journal of American History about our experience planning and co-teaching a course on narrative history writing. “By teaching skills and approaches neglected in other courses, we wanted to empower students to tell those important stories in rewarding new ways.”
Oxford University Press graciously allows me to post a free-access link to a personal website. Just click on the title below.
Scott W. Berg and Zachary M. Schrag, “It Takes Two: Combining English and History to Team Teach Narrative Writing,” Journal of American History 107, no. 4 (March 2021): 968–73.
History Audiobooks, 2019-2020
Inspired by a Twitter exchange, I realized that I have not updated my list of history audiobooks since July 2019. Here are 43 I’ve listened to since then, mostly on Audible.com, some from Scribd or Chirp. It’s especially nice to see more university presses joining the club. Special thanks to Rebecca Tushnet for entering most of these in our LibraryThing account.Continue reading
“Learn the facts, then try on the stories like clothes.”
Motivated by all the praise of John le Carré following his death in December, I’ve been reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. For the historian, surely the great line is “Learn the facts, Steed-Asprey used to say, then try on the stories like clothes.”
Getting that sequence right is harder than it sounds, and I’ve fallen into the traps of trying to squeeze facts into stories that looked good on the rack, and of trying to present facts naked to the world.
Steed-Asprey was right. The facts are not the story, and the historian’s job is indeed to try on several stories, to find the one that fits and brings out the facts to their best advantage.