Editor's Letter

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We are delighted to welcome an old friend back into our pages. Longtime readers will remember that David McCullough cut his teeth as an American Heritage book editor in the 1960s, then published articles in our pages that would develop into those first-class books about the Panama Canal, the Johnstown Flood, and Harry Truman. (Incidentally, we’ve introduced a new feature on our website to search easily for American Heritage authors. Look up David McCullough, for instance, and up pop his 13 articles.)

McCullough’s latest work, about Americans flocking to Paris in the 19th century, is yet another winner—and we’ve worked with him to create a fascinating story about American artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens and his creation of a monument to Civil War hero Adm. David “Damn the Torpedoes” Farragut, which still stands in New York’s Madison Square Park. In this richly designed feature you’ll find many illustrations that you’ve never seen before.

Also back in our pages is a more recent friend, Ed Lengel, who wrote about World War I’s Meuse-Argonne Offensive in last year’s summer issue. We got to talking about his new position as editor-in-chief of the Papers of George Washington at the University of Virginia. One difficult aspect of his job is telling people who bring in George Washington correspondence that they own a forgery, an out-and-out fake. It is akin to telling someone that a favorite uncle has died, since many of these documents have been lovingly passed down in families for generations. That generated Ed’s story on p. 46 about how the forging of the first president’s signature has been a thriving business for 150 years. (Don’t miss his valuable tips on how to spot a fake.)

You’ll also notice a pair of new columns in this issue. The first is “Web News,” which highlights new collections that we have added on American Heritage’s National Portal to Historic Collections. Surf over to www.AmericanHeritage.com to see the 86 collections that we have online so far. Interested in quilts, flags, or muskets? Navy art? We’ve got thousands of images to search.

We’ve also introduced a new column called “My Personal History,” in which we celebrate those of our readers who have dug a little bit and discovered extraordinary things about their ancestors. This issue we cover Timothy C. Ruse’s trip back to Japan to search for the 10-year-old who had befriended his prisoner-of-war grandfather, a survivor of the Bataan Death March. It will resonate for those of you who’ve read Laura Hillenbrand’s excellent recent book, Unbroken. (On our website, click onto “authors” and you’ll discover Laura’s piece for us on the famous racehorse Seabiscuit, which launched the international bestseller and movie. You read it here first!)

This issue combines both summer and fall issues. Not to worry, you’ll still receive the number of issues promised in your subscription. We’ll have some big news coming in the near future, news we know you’ll enjoy! Stay tuned!