Mormon historian mines a 'third way' to unearth the past

Mormon historian Richard Bushman has pioneered an approach to history based on “generosity,” and it's not just for his own faith's complicated — and often controversial — past.

Bushman's analytical style works with American history, too, says Stuart Parker, the first non-Mormon of Bushman's summer seminar at Brigham Young University.

Historians and scholars, beginning at least with Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche, argued that people were either unaware of their motivations and actions or misrepresented them, Parker argues in a paper presented last month at a symposium honoring Bushman's 80th birthday. In this view, historians begin with “suspicion” of participants' own accounts of past events.
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