Weekly Self-Published Book Review: The Mind of the Historian: Causation in Philosophy of History

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review by Midwest Book Review:

The Mind of the Historian: Causation in Philosophy of History

Ali Parsa

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781432769222

Reviewer: Andrey Bilko

The compelling title “The Mind of the Historian”grabbed my interest right away. Writing history is a fascinating and extremely tough job, requiring the author to juggle the often blurry facts with appropriate analysis and creative commentary while refraining from inventing history as much as possible. Nevertheless, there are a multitude of influences,  like the atmosphere of the time and place when the story is retold or written, affecting the writing of history. It is crucial to understand the author and where he is coming from in order to correctly judge his work. Besides these points, the main goal of Dr. Parsa’s book is looking into the causes behind historical events. Finding the causality between events is the prime role of a historian. The interrelationships between events and people have to be presented and united in a way, which explains their progression from the start to the finish.

The question of causation is a philosophical one. What is causation in the first place? What is the most applicable definition? Philosophers, scientists, and historians have been pondering and offering their opinions on the subject for thousands of years. People like Aristotle, Isaac Newton, and David Hume, just to name a few, all presented certain theories. The truth lies somewhere amidst the clash between the scientific method, social science, and philosophy.

Besides introducing the reader to causation in the Western philosophy, the main focus of the book is causation in Islamic history, which is supported by the case study of the work “Zayn al-Akhbar” by 11th century Persian historian Gardizi. In addition, there is another chapter devoted to analysis of twelve other historians writings between the 9th and 13th centuries in the Islamic world. Dr. Parsa aims to dig deep into these historians’ minds, who represent a broad spectrum of the overall historian community.

“The Mind of the Historian” is based on a dissertation, which gives it some dryness in certain parts. However, considering the subject matter, it reads fairly smoothly. It is a must have for those interested in Perso-Islamic historiography and a curious read for someone wishing to learn more about historical writing.

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