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 ….)