In the recent presidential campaign, in which an African-American man competed against a woman for the Democratic nomination, the word "historic" figured prominently.
The ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and global financial crunch both feel unique, and even, historic.
But are they? Are these events true firsts? Historian Simon Schama looks to the past for some context in his new book, The American Future, and concludes that while much of it is indeed historic, little of it is really new.