The Hand of History
Ed. by Michael Leventhal
The concept behind this anthology was to ask over a hundred practicing historians (Canadians such as Michael Bliss, Conrad Black, John English, and Charlotte Gray made the list) to select an aphorism or quote about history and then write a brief explanation of its importance or personal significance. Included are most of the classics (Marx’s opening to the 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon is chosen twice), as well as more idiosyncratic touchstones. There’s too much emphasis on military history, and the commentary is pretty light throughout, but it still makes for a fun intellectual diversion. Sadly, what would have been my own pick (King William’s retort to the ferryman) failed to get a mention.