Todd Gitlin

  • Grand Illusions

    WAVES OF HISTORY, as they subside, leave behind a detritus of facts—“stupid things,” as Ronald Reagan memorably misspoke, since the little darlings never speak for themselves. They require legions of interpreters and translators before they make sense—and even then, they make sense only as the sense-maker pleases (though not in conditions of his or her own making). However, facts (or what journalists like to call “the facts,” as if there were a hard-and-fast finitude of them) do have the literary virtue of lending themselves to narrative—not just any narrative, but the sort of narrative that