This book collects and focuses recent writings of Arthur Schlesinger
on the themes of its title. In its short Foreword and seven concise essays, the
book aims to explore, in some contrast with the genre of “instant history,” the
relationship between President George W. Bush’s Iraq adventure and the
national past. This aim and the present work are deserving of wide attention,
both because of the contemporary need to deal with the extended war in Iraq
and because Americans, in particular, need to attend to their own history, if
we are to avoid past mistakes and make the best use of our ongoing political
traditions and institutions. In order to know better where we might go in the
future, we need an adequate picture of where we have been in the past.
Schlesinger invites us to debate the war, the Presidency, and their relation to
the American past.