Why is the word "perspective" important to historians?

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However objective a historian may attempt to be, it is impossible for any work to be entirely without bias, if only because ideas about right and wrong (to take only one example) change so radically between eras and cultures. For instance, until the twentieth century, from the perspective of most British historians (and most British people who considered the matter), Sir Francis Drake was a great national hero, a man to be admired and emulated. From the Latin American perspective, he was a pirate, distinguished from other pirates only by the degree of his bloodthirstiness and appetite for destruction. If the British perspective has moved closer to the Latin American perspective in recent decades, this is due to a re-evaluation of imperialism rather than an obvious increase in objectivity.

Moreover, historians who are themselves writing from a particular perspective deal with sources which also reflect the perspective of the author. This perspective may be difficult to determine,...

(The entire section contains 5 answers and 926 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 19, 2019
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