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I Wish I’d Been There brings together twenty of our most distinguished historians’ responses to the question “What scene or incident in American history would you most liked to have witnessed—and why?” The answers illuminate crucial moments in our past and give readers a front-row seat at some of American history’s most dramatic events.
The Salem witch trials, the raid on Harper’s Ferry, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the voting rights march on Selma, the beginnings of the Vietnam War—all of these and more are vividly recreated here by a stellar list of contributors, including Mary Beth Norton, Joseph Ellis, Carol Berkin, Geoffrey Ward, Robert Dallek, Jay Winik, Robert Cowley, Carolyn Gilman, and William Leuchtenburg, among other luminaries of the profession. With imagination, insight, and vivid detail, I Wish I’d Been There is an engaging tour through key events in American history.
"...an entertaining book that is accessible to general readers and contains a valuable lesson for academics. . . . Any review of I Wish I'd Been There should begin with an acknowledgment that Hollinshead's request makes a delightful idea for a history book. The contributors must have felt liberated—free to use the first person and exempt from the scholarly instinct to pay any price to verify a footnote. The premise of the book allows the historians to have a little fun with their areas of expertise. . . . I Wish I'd Been There is a great idea for a book and demands a sequel or two"—James L. Smith, Journal of Southern History
“Such vivid detail it’s as if they were present.”
—New York Daily News
“Fun. . . . Poses new and intriguing questions. . . . The essays are crammed with knowledge and are as thought-provoking as they are entertaining.”
“Provocative essays that both scholars and history buffs can enjoy.”
—Deseret Morning News