Although published in 2014, Jablonka’s History is a Contemporary Literature provides important insights into the Trump phenomenon. Why does a significant portion of the American population overlook Trump’s litany of lies and falsehoods? Journalist Adam Kirsch argued after the election that popular culture, Reality TV for example, blurred the line between fiction and truth, creating a “post-truth” atmosphere that paved the way for Trump. Kirsch echoes Jablonka, who advocates that historians use literary techniques in the interest of truth. Jablonka insists that history as contemporary literature must rest on historical research and methodology, using good historical story-telling to reach broader audiences, increase knowledge and deepen understanding. Jablonka’s manifesto defines writing history as a form of public service and presciently warns of the potentially catastrophic results of relinquishing the quest for historical truth.
Sarah Fishman is Professor of History at the University of Houston, author of We Will Wait: Wives of French Prisoners of War 1940–1945, The Battle for Children: World War II, Youth Crime and Juvenile Justice in Twentieth-century France, and From Vichy to the Sexual Revolution: Gender and Family Life in Postwar France. Her current research delves into the lives and careers of mid-twentieth-century women who interacted with other women through advice columns and books. Email: Sfishman@uh.edu