MacMillan lays about with rhetorical broadsword and with fearless abandon. She inveighs against the eclipse of “professional historians” by “amateurs.” She blasts the fall from fashion of political history in favor of sociology and cultural studies. She denounces identity studies of all sorts, particularly when they descend into what she calls the “unseemly competition for victimhood.” (She singles out certain Afrocentric histories for special scorn, as having “the same relationship to the past as “The Da Vinci Code” does to Christian theology.”) But she directs her most cogent criticism at the particular kind of historically constructed identity that is nationalism.
I am teaching our graduate historical method's class, "The Historian's Craft," this fall, and I wish this had come out a little earlier. But I also would not be surprised if MacMillan commits at least a few of the sins against which she inveighs, as it seems clear that she has her own ideological stances and politics that might inform the weay she sees the world and thus the practice of history.