As reported in the Paly Voice:
Stanford University history professor David Kennedy made his annual presentation to the Palo Alto High School AP United States History classes on Wednesday, May 19.
Beginning his visit with a light-hearted presentation of humorous excerpts from student essays, Kennedy, co-writer of the renowned U.S. History text book, “The American Pageant,” proceeded to lecture on the nature and origins of history.
“History is not [a] universal law,” Kennedy said. “It is distinguishable from science and it is distinguishable from literature.”
In his lecture, he emphasized the meaning of history and its significance in both philosophical and academic aspects. Kennedy focused his speech on Thucydides’ monumental account of the Peloponnesian war, which marked the first historically accurate recording of an event in human history.
“‘The History of the Peloponnesian War’ is really the first recognizable kind of history,” Kennedy said. “That’s what we’ve tried to write ever since. Before Thucydides, history was more about myth-making than being a reliable account of events.”
Following his lesson on the origins of history, Kennedy addressed the more profound purpose of history beyond academics.
“History answers what it means to be a man...what it means to be a man in this time and place...what it means to be a man different from any other man,” Kennedy said.