Author(s): Bernard Bailyn
The past has always been elusive- how can we understand people whose worlds were utterly different from our own without imposing our own standards and hindsight? What did things feel like in the moment when outcomes were uncertain? How can we recover the uncertainties of the past, before the outcomes were known? What kind of imagination goes into the writing of transformative history? Are there latent trends that distinguish the kinds of history we now write? How unique was North America among the far-flung peripheries of the early British empire? As Bernard Bailyn argues in this elegant, deeply informed collection of essays, history always combines approximations based on incomplete data, with empathic imagination and the interweaving of strands of knowledge into a narrative which also explains. This is a stirring and insightful work drawing on the wisdom and perspective of a career spanning more than five decades a book that will appeal to anyone interested in history.
BERNARD BAILYN is currently Adams University Professor emeritus at Harvard University. He founded and for fifteen years directed the International Seminar on the Atlantic World, which helped reorient the study of the Atlantic region in the early modern era. His previous books include Education in the Forming of American Society; The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, which received the Pulitzer and Bancroft Prizes in 1968; The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson, which won the 1975 National Book Award for History; Voyagers to the West, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987; Atlantic History- Concept and Contours; and To Begin the World Anew- The Genius and Ambiguities of the American Founders.