History for "We the People"
THE STORY OF AMERICA:
Essays on Origins.
By Jill Lepore.
Princeton Univ. Press. 416 pp. $27.95
The era when serious historians aspired to write works that also qualified as literature are long, long gone. During the Enlightenment, David Hume and Edward Gibbon wrote prose as grand as any in our language, and brought sophisticated literary techniques to the craft of history writing. Their tradition was carried on by the great historians of the 19th century: Thomas Babington Macaulay, Hippolyte Taine, Francis Parkman, Alexis de Tocqueville, George Bancroft, Jacob Burckhardt, and Thomas Carlyle all composed their epics with an eye to the literary immortality they eventually achieved....