by Robert Brent Toplin
Although the popular history genre is often maligned, historians should reflect on the role of Barbara Tuchman's 1962 "The Guns of August" in guiding JFK away from the brink of nuclear war and recognize the power of a story clearly told.
by Jon Meacham
"To Tuchman, folly begins with the most fundamental of things: an outsize and self-destructive will to power."
Robert Caro, the biographer of LBJ and Robert Moses, delivered a talk about a fellow historian, Barbara Tuchman, to a standing-room-only crowd at the Links Club on a recent evening. The event was sponsored by the Library of America, which was marking its reissue of her masterwork about the events leading up to World War I, "The Guns of August."The Library of America may not be familiar to all—it's actually not a library but a nonprofit publishing house—but most bibliophiles would probably recognize its handsome series (241 volumes and counting) in matching black covers decorated with a red, white and blue stripe. The series is devoted to great American writers; most, but certainly not all, are deceased.So expertly and elegantly are the books published, and so affordably priced, that I have a hunch: Were an author offered the option of a Library of America edition and an unmarked grave, or no book and a splendid sarcophagus, he or she would choose the former....
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