When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

18 May 2006

On reading history

Have been reading a lot of nonfiction lately, especially history. Have noted the following three trends:

(1) I have become increasingly convinced that history is the only subject of study that really matters, and progressively more infuriated about how badly it is taught in schools, by and large.

(2) I grow more respectful of historians as a class or group, to the point that my esteem for them is nearly boundless, but also increasingly distrustful of the agenda and point of view of any single historian (from any point on the political spectrum.)

(There is no conflict or even inconsistency between these two positions.)

(3) I weep with shame for ever having considered myself an educated man.

Some histories, biographies, books on current events, and general works of social science I have recently enjoyed include:

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Barry,

Great post. As a life-long reader of history and an undergrad history major, I agree whole-heartedly. I once saw my niece's high school history book, specifically, its coverage of the Boston Massacre. It was so summary, so cursory, that it was drained of all interest. But how does one cover the history of the world, at any manageable level of detail? It's a challenge.

One note on Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Your must read this:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0805068848/202-8074114-3639853

The author says that Lawrence was a grand liar. And the book is very worthwhile, on-topic for your interests (I think). Email me if you'd like to borrow my copy. I work in midtown.