The study of history has changed dramatically in recent decades. The swiftness and scale of the shift is indisputable, but its precise nature as well as its implications remain hotly contested. This new study by one of the liveliest and most acute practitioners in the field, has a refreshing transparency, a determination to demystify what historians do. It looks at history as an academic discipline but also engages with the use of historical ideas in the wider world. It examines the way historians have 'divided up' their subject, how this has changed and with what effects. Why have certain fields, such as women's history and black history, generated such intense debates about their value and validity? Is there justification for the frequent characterisation of history as something of a jackdaw subject, with a tendency to appropriate theories and concepts from other areas? What is the nature of the links with adjacent fields, such as anthropology and literary theory? Issues such as these are part of the book's careful mapping of the theory and practice of history, exploring the discipline's breadth, its complexities, and the intellectual tasks it takes on. With a terrain that has changed so markedly in recent decades, it becomes all the more important to be clear about what historians do,and why. Only with such awareness can history thrive and continue to play a central role both in the construction of modern identities and in the development of a critical understanding of human existence.