The next issue of American Heritage is given over to travel—and it will be different from any travel magazine you have ever seen. A number of distinguished writers journey to parts of the country that have a particular claim on them, and show how a knowledge of the past can deepen the enjoyment of the present. Among the journeys:
To the journalist and biographer Otto Friedrich, history is an indispensable working tool, and in the essay that serves as an introduction to this special issue, he tells how the past has served him on his travels, from the New England of his youth (where his Concord neighbors spoke casually of those families who had inhabited the town “before the fight” —meaning 1775), through the American South in the footsteps of a great-grandfather who served with a New York artillery outfit, to Bugsy Siegel’s rose garden in the evanescent city of Las Vegas.
During the great scramble for gold in 1849, a New York Tribune reporter wrote, “A man, on coming to California, could no more expect to retain his old nature unchanged than he could retain in his lungs the air he had inhaled on the Atlantic shore.” And the city at the end of the continent retains its amazing ability to work a transformation on people. In an eloquent ode to his town, Richard Reinhardt explains why although no city has more vigorously obliterated the physical remnants of its past, no city has a more vigorous sense of history.
In the fall of 1849 Henry David Thoreau set out to explore Cape Cod, and found it much to his liking. Joseph Thorndike discovers, in retracing Thoreau’s journey, that this is still a place where “a man may stand and put all America behind him.”
The distinguished critic Alfred Kazin heads for Santa Fe and discovers both enchantment and hoke, with the emphasis on enchantment.
The elegant houses and steel-tough spirit of Charleston, South Carolina … a tour of London reveals that no city on either side of the Atlantic has more poignantly American associations than the British capital … a visit to Hyde Park with a biographer of Franklin Roosevelt reveals that the Hudson River estate was less FDR’s castle than it was his formidable mother’s … and, in keeping with the spirit of questing American restlessness, there is even more to be found along the way.