One of the key steps for any historian is to know the author. This goes for primary and secondary sources, and especially modern works. In the case of the latter, it can be difficult, because most authors do not provide autobiographies in their works.
Here are some tips to find more information about historians.
Most history books provide some sort of “About the Author” section on the dustcover. However, these are often vague, only mentioning the author’s current school and a few works. Here is an example from War: Past, Present, and Future:
Jeremy Black MBE is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. His many publications include Why Wars Happen, War and the World, A New History of Wales and A New History of England. He is a Council Member of the Royal Historical Society and the British Records Association.
Jeremy Black is a poor example, as he is possibly the most prolific military historian alive today. However, whenever you come across this sort of description, search for “Jeremy Black University of Exeter”. You are looking for the author’s page at his school website, and with Google, it is the first result.
From the page, you can see a short biography, as well as taught courses, research interests, and supervision options for research. In many instances, you will find a means to contact the author. In the instance of Black, he has a phone number, but others typically provide an email address.
Other historians can prove more difficult, especially if they are amateur or do not hold a teaching position. In these situations, you have to rely on other works on Amazon, interviews, or private websites. These are out there and in most instances, you can find them.
When all else fails, you can contact the publisher to find marketing material on the author. Publishers often want to help their author get publicity and are willing set up interviews.
Regardless, when you do not know much about a historian, seek out information about him or her. Do not simply rely on the vague “About the Author” paragraphs.
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