I would want the British reader to feel that religion in America isn’t an absurd thing – a sign of a pin head athwart a gigantic body.
You are not thinking hard enough if you are sleeping well. And you would have to be unhinged to take on a subject like the French Revolution, or Rembrandt, and not feel some trepidation. There is always the possibility that you will crash and burn, and the whole thing will be a horrible, vulgar, self-indulgent mess.
The British who arrived in the United States in the eighteen-thirties and forties had imagined the young republic as a wide-eyed adolescent, socially ungainly and politically gauche, but with some hint of promise.
I am strongly of the opinion that chronology is very important. The great arc of time is what children are wired for.
I am somebody who has never been able to give up ’60s habits. I am the inevitable old codger on the dance floor.
I find it very hard to write about Jewish history.
If someone asks me to go to speak at, say, Princeton, I might or might not go. But if someone asks me from Norman, Oklahoma, I certainly will go.
I understood when I was quite small that there were two special things about the Jews. That we’d endured for over 3,000 years despite everything that had been thrown at us, and that we had an extraordinarily dramatic story to tell.