National Geographic History July 2020 - Magazine

National Geographic History July 2020

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National Geographic History Magazine July 2020. Pompeii
Historians like to debate about “watershed moments.” I won’t go into the origins of the phrase here, but it’s often used to describe an important moment in history.
But true watershed moments are more than important. They are events where a hard line can be drawn between before and after. On one side of the line is life as we knew it, on the other is life as we know it, and the two look nothing like each other.

It’s not often that HISTORY has one issue feature multiple watershed moments, but this one does. The eruption of Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii, passage of the 19th Amendment, and deployment of the nuclear bomb all qualify. Each one of these events is a marker that clearly divides history into a distinct period of before and after.

As I write this letter, it feels like we are experiencing a watershed moment right now as COVID-19 spreads around the world. Doesn’t New Year’s Day 2020 feel like it happened decades, rather than months, ago? As we all endure this moment of crisis, I pray that everyone stays safe and healthy so that we can all meet again—in the world as we will come to know it.

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