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I am, apparently, of that rare breed that likes to write. The demands of a chapter pull me from bed in the morning, and regardless of how well I think I know the day's road ahead, there are always surprises. But the pleasures that come from writing about the American past, of discovering what I hope no one has seen before, are of course balanced by rough, often tedious stretches. Writing does not come easily for me; I work slowly, much like a sculptor with a chisel, only words rather than stone or wood are my medium. But when at the end of the day I have a page or two that seem right, I pull away from the desk certain that all is right in the world, regardless of what the evening news might tell me later.

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