Wednesday, August 19, 2020


The Concord Review has helped turn history writing
from a means to an end to an end in itself…

Phillips Academy, Andover
17 August 2020

Dear Mr. Fitzhugh:

Thank you so much for the email! It’s an honour to be published in The Concord Review, and this was completely unexpected, which makes it all the more welcome. Although there are a lot of STEM competitions for high school students, there really aren’t that many prestigious awards to be had for those who wish to study the humanities in college. Thanks for providing high school students around the world with such a highly selective and reputable platform to be published on.

I started writing the Estonia paper at the beginning of the Summer last year, thinking I would try to see what I could do with a topic I was wholly unfamiliar with. My first attempt at a “history essay” ended up just being a 15-page summary of what had happened during Estonia’s independence, something I ended up having to scrap entirely. I have learned so much about how to write papers—especially historical papers—through this process, and what I have gained along the way is just as rewarding as the end result. In fact, I’ve already been working on a new paper about the Enclosure Acts in Industrial Revolution-era England, which I’m hoping to finish sometime this fall. I started out thinking I would write something to submit to this journal in hopes of getting published, but instead I think I’ve found something I’m truly passionate about.

The Concord Review has helped turn history writing from a means to an end to an end in itself, and from it I have learned how personally fulfilling it is to learn about historical niches that would otherwise have been overlooked. Thank you again and have a wonderful day! I’ll be sure to buy a few copies of the issue as soon as it comes out.

Have a great rest of the summer,

Neil Shen
Andover Class of 2022
Estonian Reform, Fall 2020

Wednesday, August 5, 2020


The policymaker undertakes multiple tasks, many of them shaped by his society’s history and culture. He must first of all make an analysis of where his society finds itself. This is inherently where the past meets the future; therefore such a judgment cannot be made without an instinct for both of these elements. He must then try to understand where that trajectory will take him and his society. He must resist the temptation to identify policymaking with projecting the familiar into the future, for on that road lies stagnation and then decline. Increasingly in a time of technological and political upheaval, wisdom counsels that a different path must be chosen. By definition, in leading a society from where it is to where it has never been, a new course presents advantages and disadvantages that will always seem closely balanced. To undertake a journey on a road never before traveled requires character and courage: character because the choice is not obvious; courage because the road will be lonely at first. And the statesman must then inspire his people to persist in the endeavor. Great statesmen (Churchill, both Roosevelts, de Gaulle, and Adenauer) had these qualities of vision and determination; in today’s society, it is increasingly difficult to develop them.

For all the great and indispensable achievements the Internet has brought to our era, its emphasis is on the actual more than the contingent, on the factual rather than the conceptual, on values shaped by consensus rather than by introspection. Knowledge of history and geography is not essential for those who can evoke their data with the touch of a button. The mindset for walking lonely political paths may not be self-evident to those who seek confirmation by hundreds, sometimes thousands of friends on Facebook.

In the Internet age, world order has often been equated with the proposition that if people have the ability to freely know and exchange the world’s information, the natural human drive toward freedom will take root and fulfill itself, and history will run on autopilot, as it were. But philosophers and poets have long separated the mind’s purview into three components: information, knowledge, and wisdom. The Internet focuses on the realm of information, whose spread it facilitates exponentially. Ever-more-complex functions are devised, particularly capable of responding to questions of fact, which are not themselves altered by the passage of time. Search engines are able to handle increasingly complex questions with increasing speed. Yet a surfeit of information may paradoxically inhibit the acquisition of knowledge and push wisdom even further away than it was before.

The poet T. S. Eliot captured this in his “Choruses from ‘The Rock’”: “Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

Facts are rarely self-explanatory; their significance, analysis, and interpretation—at least in the foreign policy world—depend on context and relevance. As ever more issues are treated as if of a factual nature, the premise becomes established that for every question there must be a researchable answer, that problems and solutions are not so much to be thought through as to be “looked up.” But in the relations between states—and in many other fields—information, to be truly useful, must be placed within a broader context of history and experience to emerge as actual knowledge. And a society is fortunate if its leaders can occasionally rise to the level of wisdom.

Henry Kissinger, (2014). World Order (348-350). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Monday, August 3, 2020


THE GREAT LIBRARY of Alexandria, founded around 300 BC by the Egyptian king Ptolemy I, has always been the ultimate symbol of scholarly endeavour. It was here that the idea of encompassing knowledge in one place by collecting a copy of every single text was born. This “dream of universality” has haunted book collectors and librarians ever since, and lies at the heart of modern copyright libraries, which are entitled to one copy of each book published in their own country. Like all the most successful bibliophiles, the kings of Egypt and their librarians were doggedly unscrupulous in the pursuit of this dream: stealing, borrowing, begging—anything to increase the collections. They ordered that all ships passing through Alexandria should be searched and any scrolls found on board confiscated. These were then labelled “from the ships” and shelved in the Library. When the Athenians lent valuable scrolls for copying, the Egyptians refused to return them, choosing instead to keep the originals and send back copies, forfeiting the huge sum of money they had paid as surety. This aggressive acquisition policy paid off and within a couple of decades the Library contained thousands on every subject from cookery to Jewish theology—a collection unequalled, both in size and subject matter, anywhere on the planet. But the Ptolemaic kings did not just collect books, they collected minds as well. They established a community of scholars in the shrine they had built to glorify the Muses—the nine Greek goddesses who inspired the arts and sciences. It became known as the Museum (Mouseion) and was closely linked with the Library; scholars from across the Mediterranean world were invited to come and work there. As time went on, a daughter library was created in the Temple of Serapis (the Serapeum) to house the ever-increasing collections.

Violet Moller, The Map of Knowledge (19). Knopf Doubleday [2019] Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Sunday, August 2, 2020



High School students planning to go to college should know that they will face reading lists of nonfiction books and be asked to write research papers. The vast majority of American public high school students are not asked to read a single complete nonfiction book or to write a term paper before graduation. But they suspect that the safe spaces of fiction readings and personal writing will not prepare them well enough for college. In many cases their teachers have neither the inclination nor the time to help them with History research papers, and while some students, such as many of those published in The Concord Review since 1987, have set up Independent Study programs on their own which let them write such papers, others may want to make use of the services we offer to serious secondary students of History:

One: The National Writing Board [1998] provides a unique independent assessment service for the History research papers of high school students. Our reports by two Senior Readers now average five pages and may be sent to college admissions officers. Inquire at

Two: The TCR History Camp [2014] offered a two-week course on the writing of serious History papers by secondary students, with three online sessions in 2020. Contact: (Manager of the TCR Summer Program).

Three: The TCR Academic Coaching Service [2014] matches high school students working on a History research paper online with TCR Authors now at or recently graduated from Chicago, Columbia, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford and Yale. Personal advice and guidance from a successful older peer (many are Emerson Prize winners) can be inspiring and productive for secondary students struggling with serious term papers. Contact Jessica Li: (Manager of the TCR Academic Coaches).

Four: The Concord Review [1987] can provide students with a fine variety of examples from the History research papers published by >1,300 high school students from 46 states and 41 other countries in 125 issues since 1987. This journal remains the only quarterly in the world for the academic History research papers of secondary students. These papers have served many students as useful models of research and writing to inspire and guide them in their own reading, research and writing. Find many examples at

Will Fitzhugh, Founder
The Concord Review [1987]
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776 USA;