The Public Interest

Why we study Western Civ

Steven Ozment

Winter 2005

A FEW years ago, I gave a talk to an audience in a small German town based on a book I had written about a prominent but dysfunctional family that had lived there 450 years earlier. When asked how I came upon and researched this story, I described a three-year period in which I spent fully as many waking hours reading and pondering the remains of my sixteenth-century subjects as I did in dealing with my daily life in present-day America. The next morning the headline over my photograph in the local newspaper read: "This is a Man From the Sixteenth Century." Although not such for the local journalist, certainly for a historian there could not have been a greater compliment!

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