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When I'm at a party and tell people that I teach American history, I often hear either, "You know, I'm fascinated by the Civil War" or a disquisition about a favorite president or something about a family's past. Sometimes this response sparks an interesting conversation; often I turn glassy-eyed. No matter what, though, I like the response, because it suggests that people outside of academe have a desire to understand their own past. You can see that desire all around you—in museums, best-selling books written by David McCullough, and Hollywood movies about everything from the American Revolution to the Cuban Missile Crisis.