Book Review: Almost Chosen People: Oblique Biographies in the American Grain, by Michael Zuckerman

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Anyone who writes history knows that the historian's personality and experience have an enormous, if sometimes unconscious, influence on the subjects they choose to write on and how they write. Yet the relation between the historian's persona and his or her scholarship remains an elusive subject. Historians run the gamut from the ivory tower intellectual who claims to know more about the 17th century than his own, to engaged scholars who write history quite deliberately to change the world.' This has of course long been true. What is different today is the increasing openness among historians about their personal agendas in doing history-and, in the case under review, the author's willingness to delineate the wellsprings of his commitment to certain subjects and modes of inquiry. [excerpt]