A Brush With History

October 2017

The greatest challenge for the editors of this magazine since its beginnings thirty-five years ago has been to make the events and personalities of the past come alive again. But for this special anniversary issue we decided it would be appropriate to remind ourselves that history is as much a province of the living as of the dead—we all have been touched by events and forces that link us to the great patterns of meaning that historians will eventually ascribe to our age. To this end we asked a number of eminent writers, historians, and public figures to recall a moment in their lives that might be labeled “a brush with history.” There were so many excellent responses that we were forced to select only those that, taken together, create a kind of mini-history of the past half-century. We also included two longer pieces that were submitted by readers who, although of no public fame, remind us that each of us is a child of history.

—The Editors OUT OF THE BLUE ONCE IN A LIFETIME TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY