David Sorkin

When Rites Go Wrong

One of the historian’s most important tasks is to teach us things we do not know. One significant form this can take is to complicate our understanding of the past by helping us re-imagine how events unfolded. It is too easy to assume, for example, that events move in a straight line from point “a” to point “b” without divagations or byways, without other possibilities or options. We are all susceptible to the alluring simplicity of history being a foreordained linear process.