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Jonathan Yardley…The Purpose of the Past is a beacon of common sense, sanity and wisdom. It is rare indeed when a collection of mere book reviews can stand alone as a unified and coherent book, but that is just what this one is. Handsomely written, deeply informed and resolutely fair-minded, it is essential reading for anyone who cares about history and the uses and abuses to which we subject it.
—The Washington Post