The Living of History
In writing history or biography, you must remember that nothing was ever on a track. Things could have gone any way at any point. As soon as you say “was,” it seems to fix an event in the past. But nobody ever lived in the past, only in the present. The difference is that it was their present. They were just as alive and full of ambition, fear, hope, all the emotions of life. And just like us, they didn’t know how it would all turn out.
The challenge is to get the reader beyond thinking that things had to be the way they turned out and to see the range of possibilities of how it could have been otherwise.
- by David McCullough