What is a historian? How are they trained? What do they do? What should they do? Are they doing it well? These important questions addressed in James M. Banner, Jr.‘s excellent Being a Historian: An Introduction to the Professional World of History (Cambridge University Press, 2012). Banner knows whereof he speaks: he’s been working historical trade in various capacities (far more varied than most, I’m happy to say) for half a century. He’s a careful observer, a trenchent critic, and (something I found refreshing) an unrelenting optimist. In this interview he talks about the historical discipline, professional historians, and historians (including history majors!) working in a great variety of occupations. If you are a thinking about studying history, already study history, or are in one of the historical trades, you would do well to read this book.