32 / CHRONICLESnin the prose of Mark Twain or Hemingway.nIt is American English at itsnbest, in part because—because andnnot in spite of—the condition that itsnwriter is aware of the connectedness ofnthe New World to the Old (a historicalnsense which abounds, too, in his prosenpoems and essays).nThe second important element isnthis writer’s tactic. He is telling andnretelling a complex story from thenperspective of its different participants,nin which way the history of the LittienBighorn becomes revealed through thencompounding of the stories of Custer,nCaptain Benteen, Major Reno, Mrs.nCuster, Sitting Bull, et al. LawrencenDurrell tried something like this in hisnAlexandria Quartet, and Paul Scott innhis Ra; Quartet. But Son of the MorningnStar is a military history. Connell’sntactic and approach are somewhat similarnto that of the English militarynhistorian John Keegan in Six Faces ofnBattle; but that book compares to Sonnof the Morning Star in the way Scrabblencompares to a crossword puzzle, hinreading Connell we are in the presencenof a master.nSo we come to the most importantnmatter. Son of the Morning Star is anhistory. It is a history not written by anprofessional historian, and it is a historynmosdy based on secondary sources.nThis no longer matters, because thenonce serious and categorical distinctionsnbetween “professional” and “amateur”nhistorians, and between “primary”nand “secondary” sources arenlargely outdated. What matters isnsomething else: that Son of the MorningnStar is not, as some critics praisednit, “history by a novelist,” nor is it an”nonfiction novel.” Yes, the instrumentnis Connell’s descriptive, and imaginative,nprose: but the material isnhistory and not something inventedneither by the author’s mind or somethingnthat he puts into the minds andnthe mouths of his protagonists. Therenis no trace of “psychohistory” in thisnreconstruction, save in the sense innwhich every historian worth his salt isna walking psychologist, that is, anknower of human nature. And there isnno invention in it either: no artifacts anla Gore Vidal or movie-script confectionsna la E.L. Doctorow or fakehistoricalnreportages in the manner ofnNorman Mailer or Herman Wouk ornIrwin Shaw or William Styron.nIn the “nonfiction novel,” the “documentary,”nthe “docudrama” scenesnare invented, people are invented,nconversahons are invented, what wentnon in people’s conscious and subconsciousnminds are invented. But theseninventions are not the products of ansuperior imagination. They are theneasy way out. The route whichnConnell has followed (Ortega: “Geniusnis the ability to invent one’s ownnoccupation”) is the more difficult and,nin reality, the more imaginative one. Itnis the reconstruction of a story (innmany Latin languages “story” andn”history” are the same words) whichnconsists enhrely of people who reallynlived, from the residual evidence ofnwhat they really did and said andnthought. It is a special gift of intelligencen(again: “intelligence” means literallynthe ability to read between lines)nand of a kind of historical imaginationnthat can vitalize those residues.nConnell and many other writersnnow have one thing in common. Theynare more and more interested in history.nAll of the superficial evidence andnaccepted ideas to the contrary, therenexists now a large appetite for history,nunprecedented in many places, butnperhaps especially in the UnitednStates. This appetite, faute de mieux,nis being fed by all kinds of junk food.nMost academic historians are blissfullynunaware of it. Other people (includingnpopular writers such as James Michener),ncertain publishers, television producers,net al., sense it but do not knownwhat it means. What it means is thatnthe historical form of thought is one ofnthe few things now that can give us anmental connection with reality. Thengreat historian Johan Huizinga recognizednthis odd compound of an atmospherenof consummate lies togethernwith the congealment of a widespreadnconsciousness of history. Already 50nyears ago he wrote that “like smokenand petrol fumes over the cities, therenhangs over the world a haze of emptynwords”; but he also wrote then thatn”historical thinking has entered ournvery blood.” It is a consequence of thisnthat 50 years later meaningful prosenhas become more and more historical.nThe essential difference betweennConnell and the above-mentionednwriters is that, unlike the latter,nConnell seems to know this. He probablynknows that it is possible to write annnstory in which every “fact” may benaccurate and yet the general impressionnof which is false. This is because anfact does not exist in our minds exceptnthrough its associations; because it hasnno meaning except through its statement;nand because the statement ofnevery fact depends on its purpose.nTherefore, the purpose of writing anpiece of history could not be really thenfinal, fixed, definite establishment ofn”factual truth” but—as Thucydidesnintimated—the reduction of untruth.nAnd what is the purpose of that purposenitself, of the reduction of untruth?nIt is not principally that of enlightenmentnor entertainment or even of instruction.nIt is one of reminder. Wenhave to remind people of some thingsnthat they, in one way or another,nalready know. Yes, every novel is anhistorical novel; yes, fact and fictionnoverlap. But an evolution has occurred.nA century ago Thomas Hardy wrotenthat “conscientious fiction alone it isnwhich can excite a reflecting and abidingninterest in the minds of thoughtfulnreaders of mature age, who are wearynof puerile inventions and famishing fornaccuracy; who consider that in representationsnof the world, the passionsnought to be proportioned as in thenworld itself This is the interest whichnwas excited in the minds of the Atheniansnby their immortal tragedies, andnin the minds of Londoners at the firstnperformances of the finer plays threenhundred years ago.” I am convincednthat conscientious history is now replacingnthat desideratum which Hardynstated as conscientious fiction. It isnhistory which can excite a reflectingnand abiding interest in the minds ofnthoughtful readers of mature age, whonare weary (and how weary we are!) ofn”puerile inventions” while they aren”famishing for accuracy”—or, shouldnI say, for reality and truth.nHistory, like the novel, does notnhave a language of its own. It isnthought, imagined, taught, spoken,nand written in our everyday languages.nThose academic historians who proceednfrom the assumption that therenare documents and historical documents,nsources and historical sources,nreconstructions and historical reconstructions,nare only self-serving: theynthink that the writing of history shouldnbe reserved to professional historiansn