Macmillan dictionary tell us that history can be either countable or uncountable, so, for example it is correct to say "a history of the Romans" or "the book provides a comprehensive history of the Second World War," and, although I'm comfortable with this usage of the indefinite article before this word, I'm troubled to figure out whether the following snippet, quoting a comment from History.SE, is proper English or not.

"real reconstruction" is vague: you can't reconstruct a history, and if it is a term of art then it is very obscure. (Link)

As far as I understand, the "a history" there is wrong and it would be better to write "history" or "a story", but I don't know why.

Can anybody explain?

  • (Off-topic) Your first paragraph is made up of only one sentence. That is sooo Italian! :) – Mari-Lou A Jun 24 '13 at 18:27
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    @Mari-L, yes, when I write in Italian, I like long sentences too much, especially because they make my writings incomprehensible, almost random words; and I am always pleasantly flattered when other people say they recognize any meaning in my written texts, even more in reference to professional reasons :) – user114 Jun 24 '13 at 18:59
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    Yet, again. Amazing! Just one sentence. How do you do it?! :) – Mari-Lou A Jun 24 '13 at 19:14
  • @Mari-Lou, behind my phrasing are years of hard work and dedication, of which I can tell you some secrets only via e-mail. Please, don't hesitate to ask; I'm waiting! – user114 Jun 24 '13 at 19:28

This question should probably be directed to the author, since he's available; but it seems to me that he is responding to your own original language:

Can anybody explain how much the Hollywood filmography is, if any, a real reconstruction of the American West's history?

Your question is not about history-in-general but about a history-in-particular, that of the American West, and it seems to me the poster responds in the first instance to that question ("you can't reconstruct a history") before moving on to a more general posture ("Films with fictive intent can't produce history").

But those two comments are too casually composed to give me any confidence in that reading. A may be simply a typo.

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    I noticed that the writer ended his comment with the somewhat unusual form every science fiction is a story about today. Where again you could argue for it being a "not-necessarily-fully-defensible" usage. But having looked at a couple of his actual answers, I'd say this is a guy in full command of his (considerable) language skills. I think Carlo is excessively fixated on the fact that he normally sees "a history" in specific contexts (not including, for example, "He's got a history, that one!"). – FumbleFingers Jun 17 '13 at 21:00

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