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Book Cover
Author Cohen, Paul A., author.

Title History and popular memory : the power of story in moments of crisis / Paul A. Cohen
Published New York : Columbia University Press, [2014]
Online access available from:
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Description 1 online resource (279 pages) : illustrations, maps
Contents The battle of Kosovo of 1389 and Serbian nationalism -- The fall of Masada and modern Jewish memory -- Chiang Kai-Shek, Chinese nationalist policy, and the story of King Goujian -- The enigma of the appeal of Joan of Arc in wartime France -- Artful propaganda in World War II : Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky and Olivier's Henry V
Summary "When people experience a traumatic event, such as war or the threat of annihilation, they often turn to history for stories that promise a positive outcome to their suffering. During World War II, the French took comfort in the story of Joan of Arc and her heroic efforts to rid France of foreign occupation. To bring the Joan narrative more into line with current circumstances, popular retellings modified the original story so that what people believed took place in the past was often quite different from what actually occurred. Paul A. Cohen believes this interplay between story and history is a worldwide phenomenon found in countries of radically different cultural, religious, and social character. He focuses on Serbia, Israel, the Soviet Union, China, Great Britain, and France, all of which experienced severe crises in the twentieth century and, in response, appropriated age-old historical narratives that resonated with what was happening in the present to serve a unifying, restorative purpose. A central theme in the book is the distinction between popular memory and history. Although vitally important to historians, this distinction is routinely blurred in people's minds, and the historian's truth often cannot compete with the power of a compelling story from the past, even when it has been seriously distorted by myth or political manipulation. Cohen concludes by suggesting that the patterns of interaction he probes, given their near universality, may well be rooted in certain human propensities that transcend cultural difference"--Provided by publisher
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references and index
Notes In English
Print version record
Subject Goujian, -465 B.C. -- Influence
Joan, of Arc, Saint, 1412-1431 -- Influence
Goujian, -465 B.C.
Joan, of Arc, Saint, 1412-1431.
Aleksandr Nevskiĭ (Motion picture) -- Influence
Henry V (Motion picture : 1944) -- Influence
Aleksandr Nevskiĭ (Motion picture)
Henry V (Motion picture : 1944)
Historiography -- Social aspects -- Case studies
Collective memory -- Case studies
Crises -- History -- Case studies
Kosovo, Battle of, Kosovo, 1389 -- Influence
HISTORY -- Europe -- France.
Collective memory.
Historiography -- Social aspects.
Influence (Literary, artistic, etc.)
Masada Site (Israel) -- Siege, 72-73 -- Influence
Israel -- Masada Site.
Kosovo (Republic)
Genre/Form Case studies.
Form Electronic book
ISBN 9780231537292