Thursday, March 08, 2012
Tuchman joins Parkman and Adams
Long ago I read A Distant Mirror twice; remembering it now, I suspect that I might really like reading the book a third time. "The calamitous 14th century" had just as much to say to me the second time around as the first, and that was only partly due to faulty memory! Now two of her books have just been released in the Library of America, and Jon Thurber has an article about Tuchman and in praise of the opening of The Guns of August:
So gorgeous was the spectacle on the May morning of 1910 when nine kings rode in the funeral of Edward VII of England that the crowd, waiting in hushed and black-clad awe, could not keep back gasps of admiration. In scarlet and blue and green and purple, three by three the sovereigns rode through the palace gates, with plumed helmets, gold braid, crimson sashes, and jeweled orders flashing in the sun. After them came five heirs apparent, forty more imperial or royal highnesses, seven queens--four dowager and three regnant--and a scattering of special ambassadors from uncrowned countries. Together they represented seventy nations in the greatest assemblage of royalty and rank ever gathered in one place and, of its kind, the last. The muffled tongue of Big Ben tolled nine by the clock as the cortege left the palace, but on history's clock it was sunset, and the sun of the old world was setting in a dying blaze of splendor never to be seen again.
The only other two historians in the series are Francis Parkman and Henry Adams, both of whom are crucial to American literature and history, so it's an honor for Tuchman and her books to be in such company. I shall have to read more of her.