So I finally went to the library and checked out a random history book called Historical Enigmas, by Hugh Ross Williamson.
I have so far read the “epistle dedicatory,” the foreward, and the first two chapters. Despite the premise of the book being unsolved mysteries from history (mostly Western European history iirc), the majority of what I’ve read so far has been Hugh Ross Williamson’s theories on how history as a subject should be approached.
The gist is that he views history as more of an art than a science, and is contemptuous of his contemporaries (1950s-1970s) who approach it as a science. (”It must be a ‘science’; it must have a ‘method’; it must flourish ‘facts’; it must announce ‘conclusions’.” Hugh Ross Williamson states bitterly.)
Hugh Ross Williamson is also a believer in the Great Man theory, or at least that studying history with a focus on the various Great Men is going to give you a better understanding of history “than by analysing the life of a seaport community in the year 1588.”
I don’t disagree with all of the various points he makes, many of which I haven’t gone into here, but his general phrasing and the way he makes himself out to be this bold, rule-breaking historian detective who’s unfairly treated by the Oxford establishment that disagrees with his methods even though they’re so much better than theirs, makes me think Hugh Ross Williamson is kind of a pompous windbag.
(And because that particular phrase popped into my head I picture him as looking like this guy.)