Forum: Entertaining Historians?
Douglas Johnson considers whether anecdotes are a mark of the self-indulgent historian.
Most historians have to deal with the problem of the anecdote. Some historians who work on subjects where the supply of relevant anecdotes is sparse, tend to envy their colleagues who are able to entertain their readers (and catch the attention of reviewers) with enlivening stories. But everyone, in reality, fears the dread word 'anecdotage', and it is well known that there are only too many examples of historians who have failed to resist the temptations of facility and who have written that which is amusing rather than that which aids understanding.