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The Early Days: How I Began to Write US History

March 31, 2009

Tags: Tags: joy hakim, u.s. history, writing, writer

I was a writer by trade, so writing on U.S. history didn’t seem daunting. Newspaper reporters tackle all kinds of subjects. I’d done a bit of medical writing, I was a business writer for three years, I wrote often about schools, I’d reviewed some plays and concerts, become an editorial writer, and done a lot of whatever-will-sell freelancing. As for history? A story I wrote about Jefferson’s “Statute for Religious Freedom” (a little known but enormously important document) ran in the Wall St. Journal. Virginius Dabney, one of my heroes and a grand old man In Virginia history circles, had actually complimented me on the article. So had Dumas Malone, a Jefferson biographer and University of Virginia historian. The idea was to do as good a job as possible and go to experts to have my work checked. I didn’t realize it, but compared to those who actually write the books used in most schools, I was enormously well qualified. (more…)




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