Historians on America is a series of individual essays that selects specific moments, decisions, and intellectual or legislative or legal developments and explains how they altered the course of U.S. history. The book consists of 11 separate essays by major historians, ranging from The Trial of John Peter Zenger in 1735 to The Immigration Act of 1965. Historians have used many lenses to analyze how historical change comes about. Thomas Carlyle, the 19th-century British writer, famously defined history as "at bottom the History of the Great Men who have worked there," and he saw heroic individuals as the drivers of change. In the 20th century, the French school of historians known as the Annales (for the journal where they published) reacted against Carlyle and other traditional historians who had presented history as largely a chronicle of wars and political events. In their quest for the roots of historical change, the Annales historians focused on the everyday lives of ordinary people in centuries long past.