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, most recently, the editor of Presidential Misconduct: From George Washington to Today (2019). Scheduled for publication in early 2021 from Yale University Press is his book The Ever-Changing Past: Why All History is Revisionist History. His 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, nature, varieties, uses, and problematics of revisionist history since the time of Herodotus. Drawing its examples and arguments from the literature of American history, it ventures some general principles about historical interpretations, their arguments, and their lasting influences. Based on Banner's 2021 book, The Ever-Changing Past: Why All History is Revisionist History.