REST IN PEACE, MR. JOHNSON: Now and then, an author comes along who really changes your life. Paul Johnson was one of those for me. I carried around Modern Times, A History of the Jews, and A History of Christianity with me in the 1980s. Johnson could be both the erudite historian and the combative polemicist. He was never boring.
The revised version of Johnson’s A History of the American People contains a paragraph on California’s Proposition 209. You wouldn’t believe how thrilled I was when I saw it. (Look, Ma! I made the history book! No, not by name, but by the name of my project ….)