Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Value of History

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about history this winter. I’ve heard that those who do not know history are bound to repeat it, but I never believed it truly until a few months ago.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a yo-yo fanatic. I LOVE YO-YOS!!! And those of you who love the internet know that there is a discussion forum for almost any topic under the sun. Well, I used to love to visit yo-yo forums. I always learned a ton from reading through the discussions and searching for issues I was curious about. I started noticing, though, that lots of people would hop on to the forum and ask a question that had been answered before. This repetition started annoying me after a while, and it wasn’t long before I was waxing philosophical on this very issue: If I do not know history, am I bound to repeat it?

My current response to this question is to start reading up on history. I read a short biography on the life of J. Edgar Hoover, and his role in the formation of the current FBI. I want to read more history, but I don’t know where to start. Does anyone have ideas? I want to read history that’s accurate, and I feel wary of being duped of someone’s revisionist version of “how it really happened”. Even a stroll through the bookstore’s history section makes me wonder: Who wrote this and what are their biases? What have they left out?

3 comments:

Matt said...

I'm reading a book about the First Minnesota Volunteer Regiment in the Civil War. It uses a lot of writings from the men that were in the Regiment (some letters home and some newspaper articles that a few of the men wrote for their newspapers at home). Its a really good read I think. Its called the Last Full Measure The Life and Death of the First Minnesota Volunteers. I saw it in the Civil War section in Barnes and Noble last week so its there. :) Heres a great website about them too http://www.1stminnesota.net/

hollinsgirl04 said...

"The Double Helix" is an interesting autobiography by James Watson about the discovery of DNA. Read that and then read "Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA" by Brenda Maddox. The first book was written by one of the men who stole some of her data and used it to win the Noble Prize for the discovery of DNA's structure. He paints a very nasty portrait of Rosalind Franklin. The second book is an biography written about her that gives a fairer portrait - she's always left out of history books so that's a good way to learn about a brilliant female scientist.
Erin

Jenni said...

Thanks, guys, for the suggestions; I'm going to read them both! Keep 'em coming!