ISBN: 978-1-66693-362-8

Johannes Gullestad Rø

Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies

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In this edited volume, ‘anti-realism’ and its associated postmodernist label are used as shorthand for views suggesting that true accounts of the past are impossible. The aim of the volume is to clean up the mess caused by philosophers of history who, in various ways, have attempted to discard external realism (the view that the world exists independently of our representations) and the correspondence theory of truth (that a belief is true if it corresponds to the facts). The critique of anti-realism is compelling, yet possibly superfluous. The vast majority of professional historians, while often splendidly uninterested in the philosophical underpinnings of their craft, analyze the past in the spirit of realism and are not about to switch epistemic orientation. The tenets of the realist program and the rebuttal of postmodernist epistemology are also well known. That said, the book is an intellectual feat. The structure of the book is neat, and the prose is readable and inventive. The Introduction by the editors is terse and instructive. The nine chapters which follow fit together in a sequenced compilation but can also be read separately. I found Chapters 7–9 the most innovative. Entering a new US election cycle, I can think of no better preparation than Førland’s Chapter 8 on the postmodern Frankenstein (Donald Trump), which is both thought-provoking and entertaining. The contributor’s relentless attempt at keeping the house of philosophy of history clean and the ambition to convert the anti-realist infidels is praiseworthy, but I am afraid even a book as well argued as this one will be of no avail.