So inflated and elevated is the global image of Marx, whether revered as a revolutionary icon or reviled as the wellspring of Soviet totalitarianism, that it’s unsettling to encounter a genuine human being, a character one might come across today. If the Marx described by Sperber, a professor at the University of Missouri specializing in European history, were around in 2013, he would be a compulsive blogger, and picking Twitter fights with Andrew Sullivan and Naomi Klein.
I had no thought of being a journalist in college, but in retrospect studying history was pretty good preparation. You learn to view sources very critically and skeptically. You learn to boil down a lot of information into a concise argument, or story. You learn the importance of context. That being said, they don’t call it the “news” business for nothing. Almost every time I tried to sneak a few paragraphs about the past into my news copy an editor would cut it out.
The challenge for someone trying to assess America, at this moment, is properly calibrating how far we’ve gone with how far we have to go. Too much optimism renders you naive; too much pessimism makes you cynical.
“Americana band with an obsession for American history. Current themes include the burnt-over disctrict, Mormonism and Edwin Stanton. Released 2 Eps - Underfed & Underpaid and Your Obedient Servant - and our debut album was released on 19th January 2013.”
Wineburg describes one historian’s reading in some detail; he was not an expert on Lincoln, and wrote numerous comments on the documents indicating uncertainty, but eventually wound up with a particularly deep, expert-like understanding of Lincoln’s ideas. In short, he did what most historians try to do and to teach others to do—something which goes beyond “putting X in historical context,” because it requires admitting that we start with an inadequate understanding of the context, and need to feel confused for a while before we can “get it right.
… Howard thought the computer should be adapted to the individual and not the other way around. One size fits one. The programs he wrote for me ere molded like clay to my requirements—an appealing approach to anything called an editor.