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Selective Book List

How strange the twists of "his-story." This medieval woodcut portrays Socrates (looking oddly like Christ in a Fool's cap) being instructed in writing by Plato. But the caption says (correctly) that Socrates refused to write, so Plato put his master's words into written dialogue. The history that tyrannizes and torments us is written, so metahistory engages the written word, but also goes beyond it. Metahistory.org proposes a dialogue with the Socratic intent to learn and unlearn as we explore language. Although Socrates did not write down his ideas, he was most certainly literate, able to read. Perhaps he would have been interested in some of the books listed here.

General Orientation: Suggested Essential Reading. There are 14 books recommended for a general overview of metahistorical issues and questions.

Thematic Reading. These are 15 books suggested as basic reading in relation
to the five informing Themes of metahistory, three for each Theme:

    Sacred Nature

    Blackfoot Physics by F. David Peat.
    by Diana Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer.
    Voices of the First Day by Robert Lawlor.

    Eternal Conflict

    Cosmos, Chaos and World Order by Norman Cohn
    The Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhelm Reich
    The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness by Erich Fromm


    Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock.
    The Gods and Goddesses of Old Europe by Marija Gimbutas
    The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets by Barbara Walker

    Moral Design

    I Ching, Translated by Richard Wilhelm
    Voices of Our Ancestors by DhyaniYwahoo
    Homo Ludens by Johann Huizinga


    Coming to Our Senses by Maurice Berman
    Technopoly by Neil Postman
    In the Absence of the Sacred by Jerry Mander

The Seven Classics. These are books recommended for an understanding of the background of metahistory and history writing in general. They give in-depth perspective on the origins of historical writing, as well as insight into altered ways of looking at how history is told, how it can be spun, and how narratives can be evaluated.Commentaries on these books are incorporated into the essay, Background to Metahistory.

NOTE: Although the books of Hayden White are responsible for putting the word "metahistory" into current discourse, White's work is purely academic and rather forbiddingly loaded with freeze-dried categories and self-referential jargon. As I have said elsewhere in the site, metahistory is not an academic chess game, it is a path of liberation from belief-driven behavior. There is little or nothing in White that can contribute to the practice of metahistory as developed in this site.

Finally, there are a few reviews on current books of metahistorical bearing. This list is subject to periodic additions. At present (June 2004) it includes the following:

Material by John Lash and Lydia Dzumardjin: Copyright 2002 - 2018 by John L. Lash.