Robert Wilson is editor of The American Scholar. He is the author, most recently, of Matthew Brady: Portraits of a Nation.

I recommend Leslie Berlin's piece for Backchannel called "To Invent the Future, You Must Understand the Past," a history of Silicon Valley and an exploration of how its beginnings continue to affect what it is and is likely to continue being. Berlin is the project historian for Stanford's Silicon Valley Archives, so she's about as authoritative as it's possible to be. She's also able to bring off such good lines as, "Think of the transistor as the grain of sand at the core of the Silicon Valley pearl." I was especially interested in her look at the culture of Silicon Valley in the 1950s and today, and how that culture grew out of the broader culture of the West.