Over a remarkable career Bernard Bailyn has reshaped our understanding of the early American past. Now, Bailyn presents an intellectual memoir of the significant turns in an immensely productive and influential scholarly career, alive with people whose actions touched the long arc of American history.
...an elegant and engaging memoir ... Mr. Bailyn, born in 1922, is now approaching his century. His book is laced with personal reminiscence, told with a light touch and gentle humor ... Perhaps the book’s long section on Harvard’s noted Atlantic History Seminar will be too inside baseball for anyone other than the dwindling band of Atlantic historians. But other chapters manage to do what Mr. Bailyn has done so well for years: to illuminate the colonial period while speaking to our own ... Mr. Bailyn has been able to turn over the complexities of the American Revolution and find new and interesting things to say. And for him, every answer leads to another question ... he might have drawn from the richer variety of voices across society that are preoccupying a rising generation of historians. But then maybe this master craftsman will make those varied voices the subject of a book for his 100th birthday.
The book’s blurb billing it as a 'self-portrait' is somewhat misleading. Illuminating History is not an intellectual memoir, but rather a miscellany — a collection of sometimes fascinating, often arcane historical essays, written in Bailyn’s elegant but orotund style ... In the end, Illuminating History is not so much a fully satisfying intellectual repast as a series of historiographical amuses-bouche. Its main value lies in whetting the appetite for a richer diet of the works of a great American historian.
Bailyn...offers a fascinating reflection on intellectual enthusiasms and challenges that have marked his long, prolific career ... Deftly melding memoir and historiography, Bailyn recounts several significant projects that were shaped by unexpected findings ... A privilege for history buffs from a master of the craft.