U.S. history enjoys a renaissance

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In a high-tech age of instant communication, old-fashioned history is enjoying a renaissance in U.S. popular culture.

History tomes crowd best-seller lists. Historical documentaries fill the airwaves. And people pay thousands of dollars to spend whole weekends with noted historians, much the way rock-n-roll or baseball fans attend fantasy camps with their heroes.

"At all levels of American society there is this hunger to understand the past and relate it to the present," historian David Nasaw said at one such event. "The people who are fascinated reach from the top income bracket to ordinary folk."

Nasaw, who won the 2007 American History Book Prize for his biography of Andrew Carnegie, was a star attraction at a weekend fundraiser for the New York Historical Society, which raised more than $1.5 million from patrons who donated at least $5,000.

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