1949-89: A History Lesson By Billy Joel

In 1989, Billy Joel released a song called "We Didn't Start the Fire," which identifies---in a stream of conciousness format--- key people and events in US and World History from the year of Joel's birth (1949) to the present at that time.

This list is dedicated to books or authors identified in the song AND books about the people and events described.

For a great overview of the people and events identified in the song see: http://www.school-for-champions.com/h...
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flag this list (?)
179 books · 65 voters · list created February 4th, 2013 by Ben (votes) .
53 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Ben 1079 books
72 friends
Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) 545 books
510 friends
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads 3226 books
858 friends
Wanda 2663 books
16 friends
Thom 6023 books
307 friends
Laura 11974 books
294 friends
Ellinor 7796 books
479 friends

More voters…


Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) (last edited Feb 04, 2013 02:34PM) (new)

Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Great list!

The song's lyrics, for reference:

Harry Truman Doris Day Red China Johnnie Ray
South Pacific Walter Winchell Joe DiMaggio
Joe McCarthy Richard Nixon Studebacker television
North Korea South Korea Marilyn Monroe

Rosenbergs H-bomb Sugar Ray Panmunjom
Brando The King and I and The catcher in the Rye
Eisenhower vaccine England's got a new queen
Maricano Liberace Santayana goodbye

We didn't start the fire
it was always burning
since the world's been turning
we didn't start the fire
no we didn't light it
but we tried to fight it

Joseph Stalin Malenkov Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller Campanella communist block
Roy Cohn Juan Perón Toscanini dacron
Dien Bien Phu falls Rock Around the Clock

Einstein James Dean Brooklyn's got a winning team
Davy Crockett Peter Pan Elvis Presley Disneyland
Bardot Budapest Alabama Krushchev
Princess Grace Peyton Place trouble in the Suez

We didn't start the fire
it was always burning
since the world's been turning
we didn't start the fire
no we didn't light it
but we tried to fight it

Little Rock Pasternak Mickey Mantle Kerouac
Sputnik Chou En-Lai Bridge on the River Kwai
Lebanon Charles de Gaulle California baseball
Starkweather homicide children of thalidomide

Buddy Holly Ben Hur space monkey Mafia
Hula hoops Castro Edsel is a no-go
U2 Syngman Rhee payola and Kennedy
Chubby Checker Psycho Belgians in the Congo

We didn't start the fire
it was always burning
since the world's been turning
we didn't start the fire
no we didn't light it
but we tried to fight it

Hemingway Eichmann Stranger in a Strange Land
Dylan Berlin Bay of Pigs invasion
Lawrence of Arabia British Beatlemania
Ole Miss John Glenn Liston beats Patterson
Pope Paul Malcolm X British politican sex
JFK blown away what else do I have to say

We didn't start the fire
it was always burning
since the world's been turning
we didn't start the fire
no we didn't light it
but we tried to fight it

Birth control Ho Chi Minh Richard Nixon back again
moonshot Woodstock Watergate punk rock
Begin Reagan Palestine terror on the airline
Ayatollah's in Iran Russians in Afghanistan

Wheel of Fortune Sally Ride heavy metal suicide
foreign debts homeless vets AIDS cracks Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shores China's under martial law
Rock and roller cola wars I can't take it anymore

We didn't start the fire
it was always burning
since the world's been turning
we didn't start the fire
but when we are gone
will it still burn on and on and on and on
and on and on and on and on


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Crossing the Threshold of Hope - think that's by the wrong "Pope Paul" - from the context of the verse I think he meant Pope Paul IV (1963-1978).


message 3: by Ben (new)

Ben Susanna wrote: "Crossing the Threshold of Hope - think that's by the wrong "Pope Paul" - from the context of the verse I think he meant Pope Paul IV (1963-1978)."

Thanks Susanna. That was my error. I deleted it.


Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large) Ben wrote: "Thanks TA!

I think you missed a couple of verses though..."


Ooops -- amended! :)


message 5: by Saturday's (new)

Saturday's Child What a great list.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads I question the presence of Hard Wired: A Crash Course in Small College Football. I see nothing in the song referring to college football (both "Alabama" and "Ole Miss" refer to things not their football teams, and neither plays what I'd describe as "small college football" anyway).


message 7: by Ben (new)

Ben Susanna wrote: "I question the presence of Hard Wired: A Crash Course in Small College Football. I see nothing in the song referring to college football (both "Alabama" and "Ole Miss" refer to things not their fo..."

You're right Susanna. In fact, the only sports he references are baseball and boxing. Thanks for catching that.

I was going to delete it, but couldn't find it. Where is it on the list?


message 9: by Ben (new)

Ben Susanna wrote: "#48."

Thanks... it's gone. It was quite clearly spam.


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads Yup. He seems quite determined to put his book on all sorts of lists, from non-fiction to YA paranormal romance.


message 11: by Sadie (new)

Sadie What a great and original idea for a list! Makes me want to read all the books presented here and listen to the song while doing so :)

Here's another link explaining the song's references: http://dippitydont.co.vu/post/6979726...


message 12: by Sagar (new)

Sagar RJ Thanks :)


message 13: by Anupam (new)

Anupam Majumdar Powerful song indeed. College day fab.
- AM
blogger at PhysicsTeacher.in


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