The Fate of the Union: Kennedy and After

New York Review of Books 1/9 (26 December 1963): 10.


Was this “the loudest shot since Sarajevo”—as a BBC commentator, stunned by impact of the news, said? Does this shot mean that the brief “moment of comparative calm” and “rising hope,” of which the dead President spoke only two months ago in an address to the United Nations, will soon be over? Will the day come when we are forced to see in this tragedy a historical turning-point? To think in terms of comparisons, to apply historical categories to contemporary events is tempting, for to anticipate the future historian is to escape the terrible reality and naked horror of a tragedy that is only too present. And it is misleading; for the future, which depends upon ourselves and our contemporaries, is unpredictable, and history begins only when the story it has to tell us has come to its end.

The New York Review of Books