|In a biographical essay in his collection THE UNPREDICTABLE PAST, American historian Lawrence W Levine writes about his immigrant roots: he was the grandson of a Lithuanian butcher on his father's side, and, on his mother's, of a Russian soldier who deserted and came to America to be a house painter. Lawrence's father immigrated to America and eventually ran a vegetable store in Manhattan. Like many second-generation Americans, Lawrence studied hard, and attended the City College of New York (CCNY). He did his graduate work at Columbia University, where he studied under the esteemed historian Richard Hofstadter, writing his thesis on William Jennings Bryan, which became his first book. Columbia and CCNY gave him a first-class education and a solid background in history.|||But he recounts that it is the years he spent teaching at Berkeley College in California that really made a difference in his life. There he was to embark on a new approach to history that was distrusted by mainstream historians, but that, over time, became an accepted approach that yielded rich insights into American history. The social history approach, which was practiced by scholars such as the famous Howard Zinn, sometimes used folk culture and popular entertainment as legitimate sources, and told history "from the bottom up," taking the perspectives of those whom society marginalized: workers, immigrants, ethnic and racial groups, etc. Over the course of a career that lasted decades, Levine was to mine this rich material in many essays, and in books such as HIGHBROW/LOWBROW and BLACK CULTURE AND BLACK CONSCIOUSNESS. During the culture wars of the 1990s, Levine staunchly defended higher education from attacks by the right. Levine received many honors, and served as president of the Organization of American Historians.