“Charlie Guiteau done shot down a good man.”
By Jay Green
Historians devote themselves to a hopeless project. They are in the business of memory reclamation, dredging up long-forgotten events, places, and people buried deep within the muddy waters of the human past. The “dredging up” part has gone exceedingly well; all things considered, I would even call it a rousing success. The problem lies with the “memory reclamation” part. Although all of us go about with the noblest of intentions—”Never Forget!”—the human species shows almost no sign of being able to sustain an ongoing memory of its shared past. Memories are no sooner “reclaimed” than they slip from our trembling fingers, sinking back into the murky ooze of cultural oblivion.