When I came back to the office this afternoon I noticed we had a slideshow up on the National Medal of the Arts and National Humanities Medal ceremony today at the White House. And there’s a long list of luminaries you can see here. But it wasn’t until a bit later that I realized just who was included because one of these folks played a key role in my life.
The gentleman being congratulated here is Professor Gordon Wood. Many of you have probably read one or more of his books. But Wood was also my dissertation advisor in graduate school.
Yes, before I got into the journalism business I had a rather different life planned for myself. And I spent the better part of my twenties getting a PhD. Wood’s speciality is the Revolutionary Era, which is basically a subset of the Colonial American History specialty, though its reaches into the early 19th century. And my period was a little different. I did stuff in the 17th century, about a hundred years earlier, which is in many ways a totally different world from that of the mid-to-late 18th century. But I labored and learned under Wood’s insistence on precise argument and impatience with cant. And I learned a lot from him beside the specifics of the field we studied.
So Professor Wood, Congratulations.