James M. Banner Jr. is an independent historian in Washington, D.C. The cofounder of the National History Center, he is now a visiting scholar in the history department of George Washington University. Banner is a coeditor of Becoming Historians (2009), the author of Being a Historian: An Introduction to the Professional World of History (2012), and the editor of Presidential Misconduct: From George Washington to Today (2019). His latest book is The Ever-Changing Past: Why All History is Revisionist History (2021). Banner's play, "Good and Faithful Servants," adapted from the correspondence between John and Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson, is under development.
This lecture originates in a study of the existence, history, nature, varieties, uses, and problematics of revisionist history since the time of Herodotus. Drawing its examples and arguments from the literature of American and European history, it ventures some general principles about historical interpretations, their arguments, and their lasting influences. The lecture is based on Banner's 2021 book, The Ever-Changing Past: Why All History is Revisionist History, the first book on its subject since 1929.