Books: Just Tell the Story Well

THE HISTORIAN AND HISTORY by Page Smith. 261 pages. Knopf. $4.95.

Though they have been writing history for several centuries, historians are still arguing about how it should be written. Some would like to inject more economics into history, some more sociology, others more psychology. Some would place more emphasis on free will, others on impersonal forces. Page Smith, biographer of John Adams, would settle for a little more imagination.

In a witty, incisive, appetizingly readable book, Smith tries to show where modern history has gone astray. Mesmerized by all the new sciences of...

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