The idea of Bitcoin is that you can obtain the current state of the network without having to trust anyone. You essentially rely on the fact that the state that has most work put into it, is the valid state, and that all transactions are chained together up until the genesys block, after which there are no more transactions.
Now if you were to truncate this state (the block chain) in half, you could hard code this information into the software and it could reach some form of consensus among the nodes of the network. However this opens the door for attacks, because a dishonest node could easily fake and send you a wrong block height information, perhaps making you believe that a different history happened before the truncation of the block chain. And it could do this by simply broadcasting chunks of the history that was truncated, because lots of work has been put in that chunk and your client is programmed to accept longest worked on chains.
You would really have no way of knowing unless you read the entire history yourself.