What I'm Reading Now: James McPherson (Interview)

tags: James McPherson

Tiffany April Griffin is a student at  Southern New Hampshire University and an HNN intern. 

James McPherson is Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University and the winner of the Pulitzer Prize.  He was interviewed by email. 

Q: What books are you reading now?

Carl Sandburg's Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time.

Q: What is your favorite history book?

C. Vann Woodward's Origins of the New South.

Q: What is your favorite library and bookstore when looking for history books?

Firestone Library, Princeton University.  Labyrinth Bookstore, Princeton.

Q: Do you own any rare history or collectible books? Do you collect artifacts related to history?

I own a first edition of U. S. Grant's memoirs.  But I am not a collector.

Q: Which history museums are your favorites? Why?

 The museum at the Visitor Center of Gettysburg National Military Park.  It puts the battle in the larger context of the Civil War, and the war in the larger context of the slavery controversy.

Q: Why did you choose history as your career?

I was turned onto history as a fascinating subject in college, and took a couple of my professors as role models.  I decided that I would like such a career, decided to go to graduate school, and the "rest is history."

Q: What was your favorite historic site trip? Why?

I have followed the entire Lewis and Clark Trail.  It was a remarkable experience, the memories of which will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Q: If you could have dinner with any three historians (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?

Frederick Jackson Turner, Albert Bushnell Hart, and Allan Nevins.  I would like to ask Turner why he did not publish more; to ask Hart how he managed to get a book out of Turner; and ask Nevins how he managed to publish so much of high quality about so many different topics.

Q: What would be your advice for history majors looking to make history as a career?

 Go to a graduate school with a strong history program.

Q: Who was you favorite history teacher?

 C. Vann Woodward.

Q: Why is it essential to save history and libraries? 

 History enables us to understand the world in which we live and how it got that way.  Libraries are essential to preserve and make available this knowledge.  

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