The lessons of history are more complex than simply grafting old notions onto new situations. History never repeats itself — that’s Lesson One of history — and the lessons are valuable only if they are applied selectively. History is best utilized to understand the past and to explain the present. It’s a rearview mirror, not a telescope, and hardly ever much help in predicting the future.
North Shore native and Pulitzer Prize winner David M. Shribman is executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.