This chapter begins by setting out the central themes of this book: the investigation of the power of the past to confer legitimacy upon present thought or action, and to explore the ways in which previous generations rewrote, manufactured and manipulated history to suit their own present contingencies and preoccupations. It discusses how the Enlightenment inspired the movement to reconstruct the past on the basis of the known facts and evidence, with Scots at the forefront of this process. It also touches on the ways in which post-modernism has affected recent historical studies. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.
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