“II f there is nothing sublime in the commonplace,” argues historian Randall Miller in his introduction to one segment of Dear Master, “there is continuity.” How alien to our usual notions about history is such logic! More in love with story than we ever like to admit when we confront our history, we Americans nevertheless hunt for essences and stereotypes to make sense out of those stories. It is a literary urge.
History-tellers normally want to impart...
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