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Footnotes 2017-2018 > Sunday Conversation Topic - 8/5

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message 1: by Jason (last edited Aug 05, 2018 11:47AM) (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments Sorry I haven't done these in a while. But here we go.

Topic today: Differing views of a period in history. This might go along with the ending of The Power for those who have read it. I think an example of what I mean may work better than an explanation.

I've read several books about the Gilded Age, the late 1800s leading up to and during the industrial revolution. The name of that era is taken from a book by Mark Twain and his friend titled The Gilded Age and the term Gilded Age is used positively and at this time is looked on with admiration and pride. I know there was corruption and dishonesty in this time like any other, and some people took advantage of others, but overall the only information I have read has been very positive of this time. I have never read Mark Twain's book The Gilded Age, but I have recently learned that Twain's book is satirical and spoke more of the corruption and greed during this era. Twain is quoted summarizing business practices during this time by saying "Be dishonest if you can and honest if you must." Though the surface looked wonderful and bustling, Twain felt this time period had no depth and was lacking humanity. Until reading this and then doing more research from the opposing view, I had seen very little spoken negatively of this era.

Have you ever learned about or studied a period in history, felt you had a good grasp on era or event and then learn of a completely different view? Is this Revisionist History. Or is the truth most likely somewhere in the middle, combining the two opposing views? Are both true but only when viewed from different angles? Is it impossible to accurately judge or define an era or event?

What is your favorite historical event or era? What are your favorite books, fiction or non, covering or even from this period? Has your view, feelings, and even admiration for this time or event changed due to new or opposing information?


message 2: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8873 comments This is a fabulous and interesting question. But alas, nothing springs to mind. The only thought I have is thinking about the huge divide in America today and let all of the battle over which side is actually the fake news, it’s going to be interesting to see how history will portray this time. I think actually in less than mistaken, that the generation that’s going to be most different from how one thought it was might actually be the one we’re having right now. And that’s only true for one side whatever that side turns out to be. I guess I’m having trouble finding a period in history that got revamped with an opposing point of view.


message 3: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments Amy, one of your favorite times in history, the Tudors, is rife with opposing views in the catholic vs protestant debate.


message 4: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments Was Elizabeth a tyrant or savior?


message 5: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8873 comments Perhaps I misunderstood in my late night response. I thought it the question was how we view from the perspective of history - for instance your example of Benedict Arnold. I was actually thinking about that exact time period. In terms of whether Scots versus Rngland won wars, and how often Calais switched countries ownership. Even the cousins war. And who is rightful heir to the throne. And who is backed and for what reasons. Religion, land, who is winning - personal safety....

It feels dangerous to touch it, but the Arab Israeli Conflict, and over centuries is another such quagmire. Whose land, whose prophecy, whose right.

Difference of opinion? How about FDR turning away four if not more refugees ships left to die? If you compare and contrast that to now it’s a very interesting question. Now all of a sudden I can relate to the question.


message 6: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8873 comments For those who are following, those last two responses of Jason's and mine were written at exactly the same time, as neither one of us seems to sleep. Jason, its after 1AM and I have to fold the laundry and write letters to the kids! I'll let someone else chime in. Elizabeth is the Tudor I actually know the least about. After having read everything down to this point, she is my last stop. I know she is highly controversial. But I think you are absolutely right that she is not the first English royal to have experienced extreme strife. Mary versus Elizabeth to begin with was a religious nightmare! Not to mention a question of parentage vs religion, versus who was appointed/annointed, versus marriages and alliances. There is a reason I love this time period. Its not just about the complicated cousins and the internal threats. Its France, Spain, and Scotland all entwined. Laundry awaits. Get some sleep.


message 7: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments My question i guess, was new or opposing information changing our view of history. Queen Elizabeth freeing the protestants. Or was she the slayer of catholics? Or both, or neither. Some say she didnt keep her promise to be accepting of both and some say she was forced into harsh treatment of the catholics.

Another good example is Germany being thr bad guys if WWI, but common opinions now also state that Germany was no more coupable than Britian or France for WWI and Germany was judged and treated harshly as the losers.

So our view of history altering.
Books play a large role in this. Our understanding of history is based largely on what we read, but there are opposing views of history and overtime, sometimes, the commonly held view changes.

I remember a book published (i didnt read it) making the argument that Lincolns actions lead to the civil war and he caused the civil war. He single handedly could have stoppes the civil war so therefore it happing was his fault.


message 8: by LibraryCin (last edited Aug 05, 2018 11:06PM) (new)

LibraryCin | 8645 comments Amy wrote: "For those who are following, those last two responses of Jason's and mine were written at exactly the same time, as neither one of us seems to sleep. Jason, its after 1AM and I have to fold the lau..."

It's just after midnight my time and the only reason I'm still awake is that it's a holiday in Canada tomorrow. :-) Or, parts of Canada, maybe not the entire country.

One I just thought of... I've only read a couple of books on them, but the one I just finished a few days ago, Blood & Beauty: The Borgias by Sarah Dunant focuses on the Borgias. Apparently, more recently, some historians see Lucrezia as being more of a pawn for use by her brother and father.

Not sure what's right, and to be honest, I've read so little about them, that I can't draw an opinion, really. But, it was something the author mentioned in her note at the end.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

LibraryCin wrote: "Amy wrote: "For those who are following, those last two responses of Jason's and mine were written at exactly the same time, as neither one of us seems to sleep. Jason, its after 1AM and I have to ..."

Lucrezia in popular fictions has been portrayed as many things that aren't true. After watching some movies and reading some books I went digging around because I wanted to know. She was so YOUNG to be all they said she was. Surely? Her father and brother were scoundrels and I'll be so bold to say that I can't believe this man held the title of pope. There were definitely some interesting characters back then but he takes the prize for corrupt and just plain bad, may I even say evil in a sense. This poor girl was used for their rise into a power they barely could hold on to. And because of this they used her and anyone around them to gain what they wanted. Sadly, history has not been too kind to Lucrezia. It definitely makes for better fiction and TV shows.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Jason wrote: "Was Elizabeth a tyrant or savior?"

Elizabeth was a fascinating person, like her father. She sure had her father's intelligence, as well as his temper. I think so often history looks kindly on her after the reign of her sister Mary, who at times was just a vengeful madwoman. Compared to her Elizabeth was kind and tolerant. Of course there is way more to history than that but this seems to me where history has placed her. In almost everything I've read or watched in regards to fiction.


message 11: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8873 comments Her decisions did seem rashly made and often either paranoid or vengeful. A strategist she was not.


message 12: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8645 comments Rachel wrote: "I'll be so bold to say that I can't believe this man held the title of pope. ..."

I do not get that AT ALL - how he became pope!


message 13: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8873 comments Who is Lucrezia?


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Amy wrote: "Who is Lucrezia?"

The daughter of Pope Alexander VI. He was quite the scoundrel. He bought his way into papacy and then used his status to take more and more money for himself and his family. He is a prime example of power and corruption. But it shocking to read of him and his scandals considering his position. She is seen as a villain and a victim in history.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

LibraryCin wrote: "Rachel wrote: "I'll be so bold to say that I can't believe this man held the title of pope. ..."

I do not get that AT ALL - how he became pope!"


From what I researched after reading about his family in some historical fiction book it seems he may have bought and bribed his way into his position. They were quite the family.


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Amy wrote: "Her decisions did seem rashly made and often either paranoid or vengeful. A strategist she was not."

She was all you listed, like her father. Its interesting when you research her how much of her father's characteristics she had. As well as her mothers head was chopped off so imagine how that profoundly changed her way of thinking as well.


message 17: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8645 comments Ann R wrote: "All of this makes me wonder how our current era will be portrayed in history books and will it be accurate? .."

That is a very interesting question!


message 18: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8873 comments I was thinking accurate according to who?


message 19: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments Thats a good point Amy. I think periods of history are often times too simplified.


message 20: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8873 comments There you are dear friend. I had started to worry you had dropped off the face of the earth.


message 21: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8645 comments Amy wrote: "I was thinking accurate according to who?"

And I suppose that's kind of the idea of this thread, right? Things can be seen in different ways by different people, so it's written in those different ways.


message 22: by Karin (last edited Aug 07, 2018 06:00PM) (new)

Karin | 7206 comments Well, here's one for you. My jaw nearly dropped to the floor early in my marriage when I heard an American talk about how the Americans won the war of 1812. I was always taught, and it was in all of my textbooks, that they were defeated in that war and we won back our land after we burned the White House, etc.


message 23: by KateNZ (new)

KateNZ | 2505 comments I like books that challenge what we’ve been told about who the bad guys are in history. I remember reading Sharon Kay Penman’s “The Sunne in Splendour” - a dramatically different version of Richard III from Shakespeare’s villain. And recently I read “Wolf Hall”, which is a very sympathetic and human Thomas Cromwell. The author, Hilary Mantel, commented on how views on Cromwell have changed over the years. He was something of a hero to the Elizabethan historians (because he’d been so involved in making Anne Boleyn Queen) but then in the Victorian era, favourable church views on Thomas More meant that Cromwell was essentially cast as his nemesis, therefore the villain. Where the truth lies doesn’t matter, but it all makes for a great story


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

History is a fascinating and ever changing phenomenon. What will be written of a leader, historical figures, etc will likely change within a decade. Thoughts, feelings, emotions, hidden truths/lies come out over time. But also just people’s perspectives. I used to love presidential history, not so much anymore. But it was interesting to read books over time and see how ideas changed on a president. When I lived in Virginia and got involved in local history I learned things of the founding fathers of America that they did not teach in the textbooks.


message 25: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8645 comments Karin wrote: "Well, here's one for you. My jaw nearly dropped to the floor early in my marriage when I heard an American talk about how the Americans won the war of 1812. I was always taught, and it was in all o..."

LOL! Ok, that just made me giggle!


message 26: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments Read this on wiki. Interesting about the view of The War of 1812.

Look under Memory and historiography

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_o...


message 27: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments I was also taugh the US won thr War of 1812


message 28: by Karin (last edited Aug 15, 2018 03:05PM) (new)

Karin | 7206 comments LibraryCin wrote: "LOL! Ok, that just made me giggle!"

Well, you grew up knowing Canada's side won, too, even if we weren't yet a confederation!

This is just proof that history isn't always simple. In hindsight, I think that, like many wars, there was a compromise struck and each side felt they got enough that they won OR the media got that idea OR the history book writers.


message 29: by Karin (new)

Karin | 7206 comments Jason wrote: "I was also taugh the US won thr War of 1812"

But of course--you're American :) or so it looks from your page here.


message 30: by Amy N. (new)

Amy N. | 256 comments I was raised in the Pacific Northwest, and I didn't learn about the South's side of the Civil War until college. My history professor had us all raise hands to show who had been taught the Northern side of things and there was only one who hadn't. So she focused on making sure we knew why the South ceded from the union and what they thought of the war, etc. It was hugely eye opening because growing up in Washington State my lessons on the Civil War hadn't exactly been... nuanced. I hadn't even realized the South had a different view until then.

I'm very glad for that semester of college now, since I live in Texas and I understand where everyone here is coming from when they wave around the Confederate flag. I would have been completely horrified otherwise. It was actually a little frustrating during the big controversy about the Confederate flag a few years ago, watching my Facebook feed full of people on both sides. Neither side had any idea why the other side believed what they did, just that they were wrong. I stayed out of it, but it was hard to watch, and sometimes I wish I had said something.


message 31: by Jillian (new)

Jillian | 10 comments This isn’t a book but for anyone who watches documentaries, The Untold History of the United States really fascinated me. It really opened my eyes to the idea that the American public is constantly being manipulated to see the US in the best possible light. We’re taught in school and shown through the news and media that the US is always the hero and always trying to be peace keepers and we’re so great, blah blah blah...and we all believe it for a while. Why wouldn’t we? It’s what we’re taught IN SCHOOL! Now granted, I do understand that this documentary may also be inaccurate and probably bends the truth for the director’s agenda but I really appreciated it for opening my mind to the idea that you should not believe everything you’re told.


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