“If history were a photograph of the past it would be flat and uninspiring. Happily, it is a painting; and, like all works of art, it fails of the highest truth unless imagination and ideas are mixed with the paints.”
Recently I have been reading about Grover Cleveland. I recalled that I had Allan Nevin’s Pulitzer Prize winning biography of Cleveland in my library and I retrieved it. Nevins was a masterful researcher and an artful stylist and he performs the art of historical necromancy well as he brings to life eras from the past to gracefully dance before the eyes of his readers. Alas Nevins, who died in 1971, is largely forgotten today.
His magnum opus, The Ordeal of the Union, depicted the history of the US from 1847-1865 in eight fat volumes, the final four volumes dealing with the Civil War in microscopic detail. I was recently delighted to discover that most of his work is online. Go here to take a look at it, and hopefully you will learn what a master of Clio’s craft he was.