Kenneth O. Elvik, Editor
IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY
David Hackett Fischer, Historians' Fallacies (New York: Harper & Row, 1970, pp. xii, 338, paperback, $3.95).
Reviewed by Orace Johnson University of Illinois at Urbana—Champaign
The author should have addressed practicing accountants and auditors explicitly, as well as teachers of history, when, near the end of this tract on the logic of historical thought, he wrote:
"Each day, every rational being on this planet asks ques-tions about things that actually happened—questions which directly involve the logic of inquiry, explanation, and argument which is discussed in this book. . . . This com-mon everyday form of historical thought consists of spe-cific inquiries into small events, for particular present and future purposes [emphasis added] to which all the aca-demic monographs in the world are utterly irrelevant." (p. 316)
While "academic" as used here seems a bit pejorative, and "utter-ly" is surely an exaggeration, in the popular connotation of the term this book is relevant to everyone in the accounting profession —whether teacher, researcher, or practitioner—who makes (1) spe-cific inquiries, into (2) small events, for (3) particular purposes.
The author's stated purpose was "not to compile a catalogue of all fallacies which historians might commit, but rather to collect a few common fallacies which actually occur in historical thinking, and to extract a few rules of reason from this experience." (We could surely use such a compilation from accounting literature!) "The thesis of this book is . . . that historians, and all men who seek to think historically, tend to make certain assumptions in their work, and that these assumptions have logical consequences which must be respected . . . Logic is not everything. But is is something— something which can be taught, something which can be learned, something which can help us in some degree to think more sensi-