Henry Steele Commager: Midcentury Liberalism and the History of the Present

By Neil Jumonville | Go to book overview

Acknowledgments

There are several key individuals whose help made this book a possibility. Mary Powlesland Commager, the second wife of Henry Steele Commager, reconciled herself to my wish to write about her husband and did all she could to assist me. In the summer of 1991 she invited me to come to Amherst and begin arranging her husband's unorganized papers, which were not yet housed in the Robert Frost Library at Amherst College but were still in boxes and on shelves in his office. Without access to those papers and the privilege of quoting from them, I could not have written this book. In addition to putting up with me during several interviews of her husband, she invited me to lunch at the family home to talk with him and through her graciousness allowed me to see a personal side of Commager that otherwise would have eluded me.

The help given me by William Leuchtenburg (from broad ideas to the details of copyediting) demonstrates how much graciousness still exists within the scholarly world. Although he didn't know me, he allowed me to encroach on his time throughout the project, answered my inquiries with the greatest care and gravity, and read the entire manuscript at a late stage and commented on it thoroughly. In addition, he sent me selections from his correspondence with Commager, from which I benefited. If Commager had done nothing else in his career except produce a scholar the quality of Leuchtenburg, the profession would owe him its thanks.

Harold Hyman, another noted scholar whom Commager mentored, also read the entire manuscript. During a busy period, Hyman went through the manuscript line by line, correcting factual and grammatical mistakes. When I revised my writing, I followed his suggestions closely.

Gregory Mark Pfitzer, the biographer of Samuel Eliot Morison, knew about plans for this volume before anyone else. As we were leaving graduate school in 1987, he was already helping me frame my inquiry for what I hoped would become a book on Commager. Since that time he has given me countless hours of advice, provided materials, and allowed me to check my ideas against him. At an early stage, when help was in short supply, Pfitzer

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