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Toads and gardens—sorting out what's imaginary from what's real

From the March 2003 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Historian Allen Weinstein is founder and president of The Center for Democracy, a Washington-based nonprofit organization and a Trustee of The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity. A prolific author—his books include The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America—the Stalin Era; Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case; Between the Wars: American Foreign Policy from Versailles to Pearl Harbor; and Prelude to Populism: Origins of the Silver Issue—Weinstein has held professorships in history at Smith College, Georgetown University, and Boston University. His awards include a 1986 United Nations Peace Medal and Council of Europe Silver Medals in 1990 and 1996 for work on global democratization. Recently the Journal sat in on a talk he gave at The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity, which is reported on below.

If truth and fiction are the intertwined meta-themes of history, it's the historian's job to separate them—ideally deep-sixing the one (fiction) and writing about the other (truth). But of course, as historian Allen Weinstein reminded everyone in his talk, "The Past in Fact and Memory: Reflections on a Book," before national C-SPAN cameras and a live capacity crowd at The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity in mid-December, it isn't that simple.

The Library's Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Danzansky, began the evening by explaining that this was the fifth program of the library's inaugural "Works in Progress" series, which features how creative thinkers take an idea from inception to fulfillment. It's a look at what he called "the promethean process," whereby ideas are translated into creative works of art—literary, musical, visual, philosophical.

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