I recently received two notes from readers of the Brazilian edition of A Little History: one an architect of urban spaces and the other a professor of law with an interest in the U.S. Supreme Court. Their kind words are very much appreciated and, as someone who is sadly innocent of the Portuguese language, I was particularly glad to hear from Professor Cássio Casagrande at the Universidade Federal Fluminense that the translation by Janaina Marcoantonio into Brazilian Portuguese is "of very high quality." I spoke of my frustration in having to pare down 500 years of history into 300 pages—though in some ways that is also a most engaging challenge—and mentioned that I had wanted, early in the project, to devote a separate chapter to the Supreme Court, centered on John Marshall. Professor Casagrande commiserated on the task of compression, appreciating the focus on the Constitution but missing FDR's Court-packing scheme during the Depression. As did I, but in the end I decided that I could not pack the Court-packing episode into an already stuffed chapter!
On the other hand, try condensing into eight pages the biggest event in human history—World War II—including the rise of Hitler and the run-up to war. That's the chapter that follows Roosevelt and the Great Depression—and talk about packing!
James West Davidson
Occasional thoughts on history, teaching, paddling and the outdoors