January 30 ~  Humanity in Print Netbooks

"Books are humanity in print." ~ Barbara Tuchman


Historian and writer Barbara Wertheim Tuchman (1912-1989) was born on this day in New York City, the daughter of a philathorpist and publisher of the Nation.

"Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill," she said.

In examing history and the lives of those who shaped war, Tuchman won the Pulitzer Prize twice, for The Guns of August (1963), about the first weeks of World War I, and Stilwell (1972), a biography of General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell, chief of staff to Chiang Kai-shek in 1942-1944. She brought life to history.

"The writer's object is, or should be, to hold the reader's attention," she said. "I want the reader to turn the page and keep on turning to the end."

A deft researcher, she combined fact finding with fascinating prose, bringing her characters to life with humanity and passionate reality. Her beautifully-written books revived narrative histories and captured America's past with detail, celebrating time, place, and character.

Tuchman was opinionated, with a strength of character, and sought to bridge "the chasm between our world and a world that died forever." Her books were full of life, easy to read, and consistently made the New York Times best-seller list.

She said, "To a historian libraries are food, shelter, and even muse."

Books hold time together.