This book began to take shape about seven years ago when Terry Ball and I were hiking the A. B. Young Trail to the rim of Oak Creek Canyon in central Arizona. We were talking shop as we hiked, at least when we had breath enough for talking, and somewhere near the top of the trail Terry suggested that I publish a collection of my essays on citizenship and related topics as a book. He soon persuaded me that this was a good idea. But I eventually came to think that an even better idea would be to use those essays as the basis for a book that would be more than a collection of essays. So I began to examine the essays to see where they would need revision, what new material would need to be written, and how the new and the old could be stitched together into what I hoped would be a seamless whole. Concluding that all of this could be accomplished in a year or two, I set to work on what I came to think of as Civic Virtues.
The path to completion of this book has been much longer than I thought it would be -- and longer by far than the A. B. Young Trail. Other projects intervened and other duties interrupted progress time and again. And much more work was involved in converting a handful of essays into a book than I had anticipated. Others will have to judge how worthwhile that work has been, but I am happy to report, now that the end is near, that the effort of putting my thoughts into order has been personally quite rewarding. Not the least of these rewards has been the opportunity to benefit from the knowledge, critical acumen, and generosity of scholars and friends who have helped me, whether they knew it or not, to write this book. I take great pleasure in thanking them here for their assistance. I take less pleasure in absolving them of any responsibility for the remaining defects of this book, but honesty as well as tradition compel me to shoulder that burden myself.
First among those whose help I am pleased to acknowledge is Terence Ball. From that day in Oak Creek Canyon to the present, Terry's advice and encouragement have sustained my work on this book. I am especially grateful for his chastening comments on the first draft of Civic Virtues.