Do I Want to Be a Historian or a Supreme Court Justice?

Elena Kagan’s undergraduate history thesis (Princeton ’81) is making the rounds, sans footnotes.  Two history professors say that it “displays remarkable intellectual maturity” and “an uncommon ability to absorb and synthesize a large amount of information on what was, for an undergraduate in 1981, a fairly arcane topic,” which sounds a little as though they’re writing the umpteenth letter of recommendation of the term.  But after singing her praises as a budding historian for one more paragraph, they conclude (sadly):

These talents leave little doubt that Kagan would have become a superb historian if she had wanted to be one. Of course, even back in the 1980s, there was a tough academic job market in the humanities, and given the way things have worked out for her with her career choices, she probably made the right call.

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