Thinking in Time

by Ernest R. May, Richard E. Neustadt

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 336

Being a historical interpretation text, Thinking In Time is much more of a textbook than a novel, so there aren't characters in the same way that a work of fiction might have. Now, as the authors explore historical events, the related individuals are presented as characters in each mini-historical narrative, and we'll explore some of those individuals.

President John F. Kennedy

Being that this is a book on historical interpretation, it seems obvious that most of the individuals involved would be prominent in one way or another, and several other American presidents crop up throughout. Kennedy was president during the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis, and it is an understanding of this event that gives some small context to the importance of historical interpretation.

While deliberating over the news about Soviet involvement in Cuba—just a stone's throw from American soil—the president and his advisors discussed the "Suez-Hungary combination," an event that led to greater destruction in Hungary because Hungary was preoccupied with Suez at the time. Kennedy's correct analysis of the situation led to the eventual deescalation of the crisis.

President Lyndon B. Johnson

Johnson is discussed in several other incidents that occur, including the Vietnam War (which he calls at one point "another Cuba", meaning that it may act as a diversion and leave the United States open to worse threats because of their involvement) and sweeping domestic programs he enacted during his tenure.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. King and Malcolm X are both mentioned in this book in the context of understanding how historical events effect diverse groups. They themselves were agents of social change and were involved deeply in historically relevant events themselves, but the lesson they provide in conjunction is to show how a historical event never just affects one group or person; it will spread to other individuals and diverse groups with varying degrees of impact. It is vital, according to the authors, to think of the impact of a situation on a diverse group of individuals.

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