Ethiopia and Eritrea are home to Africa's oldest written historical tradition, which began in the third century with the monuments and manuscripts of Aksum and has continued to the present day. This study explores the development of this rich tradition, focusing in particular on the dramatic lives and original thought of a group of early twentieth-century Ethiopian and Eritrean historians. James De Lorenzi examines how these scholars used historiography to not only record the past but also grapple with the changes of the modern era. Through their history writings, they made provocative political claims, explored the nature of their communal ties, assessed their inherited institutions and ideas, and critically evaluated the people and cultures of the wider world. Opposing the view that historiography is a uniquely Western intellectual pursuit, Guardians of the Tradition provides new evidence of an African historical consciousness and the vibrancy of history writing outside the West. James De Lorenzi is associate professor of history at John Jay College, City University of New York.