Assembling the Pieces
Jigsaw puzzle season is here again. Half the people I know are hunkered down at home, sheltering from winter and the pandemic, trying to bring order from the jumble of pieces spread out on a table. Trying to recreate the picture on the box lid.
My undergraduate thesis advisor, Dr. Marcia Colish, told me most of her historian friends liked to read mystery novels. I wonder if they work jigsaw puzzles, too. The three activities have much in common. Research historians assemble motley clues to construct a coherent story.
This describes the work of detectives, FBI agents, and investigative journalists, too. Bit by bit they uncover pieces of the plotting and preparation that led up to the recent attack on the Capitol. Unlike the jigsaw, this puzzle has no box lid to let us preview how all the pieces come together.
1/25/2021 09:03:35 am
I always enjoy reading your pieces (fun fully intended). Interesting, too, that what Andy and I did was a form a assembling pieces of intelligence into a coherent story.
1/25/2021 09:58:12 am
Thanks, Ray. So much of what I think of as analysis - including your intelligence work at Kagnew Station - might more accurately be considered synthesis. Putting together a puzzle, with no box cover to tell you the results in advance.
2/3/2021 06:43:35 am
I would have trouble getting through the winter without one! Whether it's spread on the table, in a book, or on the news.
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I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.