Back to the Future

Andrew Lytle, in his family memoir A Wake for the Living, compares the past to a foreign country. "If we dismiss the past as dead," he writes, "and not as a country of the living which our eyes are unable to see, as we cannot see a foreign country but know it is there, then we are likely to become servile." The value of Destinations Past lies in its author's ability to make both the past and the foreign come alive. The historian in John Lukacs leads him to recognize that "we travel in time as well as in space." His voyages—whether to England in 1965 for Winston Churchill's funeral, to Austria in 1989 for Adolf Hitler's 100th birthday, or to Hungary in 1990 for the first meeting of a new, freely elected parliament —are more than adventures; they are "contacts with history."

A collection of 21 essays published in various places (including Chronicles) over the last 40 years. Destinations Past follows Lukacs's train of thought as he journeys—literally or, as in the essay "Cook's Continental Timetable," only figuratively—from his home in eastern Pennsylvania to various spots in Europe: Venice, Austria, Switzerland, Andorra, London, Greece, Warsaw, Transylvania, Dresden, Budapest, and Scandinavia. It is a memoir not only of the places Lukacs has seen and the moments he has witnessed but of the feelings he has...

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