'Timing Is the Thing'

Which is more important: to know history well or to use what history you know in making important decisions?

With some hesitation (since one is a trained historian), the authors of Thinking in Time decide for the latter. In a comparison between Harry Truman's and George Marshall's ability to learn from history, the authors side with Marshall, even though they consider Truman better read.

"To contrast Truman with Marshall is not to make a case against the usefulness of knowledge. Far from it. But knowledge as such, we do suggest, the knowledge of historical specifics, cannot substitute for (even though it supplements) the kind of mental quality that readily connects discrete phenomena over time and repeatedly checks connections. That is a special style of approaching choices, more the planner's or the long-term program manager's than the lawyer's or judge's or consultant's or trouble shooter's—and surely more Marshall's than Truman's."

Subtitled The Uses of History for Decision-Makers, Thinking in Time is an attempt to instruct people who must "manage" in the way to use history properly. "This book is addressed to those who govern—or hope to do so. It is for men and women elected or appointed to public office. It is also for those who assist them, as aides of 'bureaucrats,' and those who report to them...

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