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C. Vann Woodward is one of America's most prominent living historians. His books have won every major history award—including the Pulitzer, Bancroft, and Parkman Prizes—and he has served as president of both the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians. Among his most distinguished books have been Origins of the New South, generally considered to be the most brilliant work of American history in the past half century, and The Strange Career of Jim Crow, the definitive work on segregation patterns in the American South.
The Future of the Past collects Woodward's most significant essays, addresses and major book reviews of the past two decades. It includes two important presidential addresses—"The Future of the Past" and "Clio with Soul" (his trenchant assessment of Afro-American history)—as well as essays on changing historical concerns of the past decades, the value of comparative history, the South in Reconstruction times and the South today, and the use of fiction in history (and history in fiction). Woodward has written introductory comments on each section as well as a general introduction about history and the profession today.
Whether reviewing William Safire's novel Freedom or evaluating Henry Adam's portrait of Jefferson, Woodward's essays reflect a lifetime of thought on history and historical writing. The Future of the Past collects in permanent form the significant later writings of this major American historian.