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Jan—My Life on the Road (2016) > Recent History in the Book

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message 1: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Valleroy | 30 comments Does anyone else feel like this book has been a really effective lesson in recent American history?

I mean, I'm pretty educated in it, but as she even points out in the book, teaching their own history is a weak spot of America's, and you can't learn much from school, you have to seek out the real story elsewhere, which my mom always encouraged me to do from the time I was very young so I learned a lot of things I hadn't known from school but I find myself learning new things from this book as well.

My question is: American or otherwise, are you learning anything about history from this book and what is surprising to you?

For me, I have always known I would have opposed the Vietnam war, and I knew plenty of reasons why we were on the wrong side of that war (my mentor in college had actually been an anti-war protester in college himself and begrudgingly told me the details of his anti-war mime troupe and his FBI record) but the details in this book about Ho Child Minh and the war itself were still more than I knew. Knowing what I knew, it still surprised me.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Absolutely. I felt a little shocked- even ashamed- that there were aspects of my own country's history that I knew so little about. I've recently taken up reading more about slavery and the civil rights movement of the 60s, but this book made it clear that I have learning to do in many other areas as well.


message 3: by Lynn (new)

Lynn Kubik | 1 comments I was born in 1964, so I grew up through this period. But I feel like I missed a lot - just being a little kid. My parents were always supportive that I could do anything, but Mom still stayed home and mostly did the June Cleaver bit. It is good to learn more. I know I reaped the benefits of these women. I'm a mechanical engineer and have been able to work with only the mild kind of discrimination. Thanks to those who came before!


message 4: by Kristy (new)

Kristy (purplestarkatz) | 5 comments Well, I don't remember any of my history classes teaching anything past World War II. By then it was the end of the school year, and we were out of time. So for me, there were a lot of things I didn't know about, or only knew vaguely. I also found myself stopping and looking up people or words more so than I would in a fictional novel. For example, I never knew anything about Emmeline Pankhurst, except her mention in a Mary Poppins song. Similarly, I tried not to think too much about the Vietnam War too much growing up because, well let's just say that particular can of worms would have caused a lot of fights between my father and myself. It's just absurd to me how much I didn't ever learn in school growing up.


message 5: by Gabrielle (new)

Gabrielle Lapierre (adelanor) | 9 comments I am from Canada and we don't have classes about American history. This book has been so educative about it I feel like there is a lot I could learn about the world with biographies! I love books but those who are overly formal bores me ( lots of history books are very formal, I did try to read a lot of them though). I am very impressed about the amount of historical data in this book and I find myself curious about the history of other country as well now. What an amazing eye opening book!


message 6: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Valleroy | 30 comments I agree, and I imagine it must be interesting as someone who is not from America as well. I would love insider books like this about politics and history in other countries, especially since we Americans can be notorious for retelling history and making ourselves the good guys. I like that Steinem tells about the good and the bad stuff she witnessed in recent American history. I would love to know about more books that tell a broader perspective on world history as a whole.


message 7: by Tracy (new)

Tracy I love Amanda's idea. ^ I think the best history book would be written by someone who could be impartial and go by facts. They would say what country A did right, and what they did wrong, and the same with country B, and so on. Our history books leave a lot left out, just because we don't want to admit our mistakes. I love how Gloria has shown both good and bad in her stories. She definitely emphasizes the good, pointing out what people have done working together, but she's willing to get the whole story out.


message 8: by Jackie (new)

Jackie | 2 comments I too am Canadian and found the history covered in this book very interesting. I've always loved history, but never delved into any specifics of American history (other than one university course 10 years ago that I no longer remember). I really enjoyed the perspective covered in this book, both the stories that she lived through and the ones she leaned from others. This read has been far more interesting than trying to read a textbook style history book. It certainly makes me want to read more biographies!


message 9: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Valleroy | 30 comments Definitely want to read more biographies after this, I've always loved them but this one is my favorite so far I think. The history stuff was so interesting to me because they're things I learned about as a kid like "oh, this election happened and Nixon won, this election happened and Bush won, blahblahblah" but this got into detail, it was like my history classes were like reading a summary of a movie and this was like seeing the movie itself.


message 10: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments I'm living in Austria and it was so eye-opening to read the historical facts in the book( It's a history book, but from a personal perspective, if you ask me.)
I didn't learn much really about the History of the Americas, just how they were conquered (Cortez, Columbus...) and a bit about the slave trade (the triangle: Africa - America - Europe). And of course WWI and WWII. But only that the US declared war to Germany after they hit a US-American ship with a tornado. You see, it's not much. I did learn a bit on my own( especially about the Aztecs), but MLOTR is a means of debate for me. I use it when I want to talk about the topics described in the book with other people(mostly family).

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book. It means so much to me that I can read a book, printed words from an eyewitness. And I like the way Ms. Steinem writes about it. I definitely have to reread it.


message 11: by MeerderWörter (new)

MeerderWörter | 2388 comments Kristy wrote: "Well, I don't remember any of my history classes teaching anything past World War II. By then it was the end of the school year, and we were out of time. So for me, there were a lot of things I did..."

You're not the only nation which has a horrific History education in school. We managed to get to 2006, but instead of focusing on Austria and the monarchy, we focused on France and this and that. Like, the whole 19th century was more or less taught within two weeks. But it was a very important time, since there were revolutions, a lot of war and so much stuff that lead to the outbreak of WWI and therefore WWII. I just think we often focused on unimportant stuff, and the important stuff was left out. (Examples above.)


message 12: by Amanda (new)

Amanda | 5 comments I too, appreciate Amanda's discussion
question...& agree with Jackie that, as a memoir or autobiography w/lots of historical information, I found the text more interesting to read because it was more like the story of a person's life than a monotonous historical nonfiction text. It also had surprising information on women's rights. Great ideas, Amanda, Jackie, & other discussion writers!


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