For thirty-five years now the editors of American Heritage have worked to verify the fundamental premise of the magazine, which is, simply, that history happens to everyone. We are all shaped by the great events that resonate about us, but so, too, do we shape those events, however minutely. Mostly we are unaware of our participation in the eternal process, but once in a while history can step out of the mist and give you a whack on the shoulder that leaves you both shaken and exhilarated at having been there. For this anniversary issue we asked a number of people, many of them prominent, to tell us of their brushes with history. The fascinating results range from William F. Buckley’s being on hand at the moment Joe McCarthy made possible the Presidency of John F. Kennedy to Herbert Mitgang’s revelation of why the Tower of Pisa is still leaning and not a pile of rubble. The replies add up to a brisk and intimate minihistory of our century.