History is Not Boring discussion

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history is not boring

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message 1: by Ian Mullet (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:06PM) (new)

Ian Mullet everyone is always talking about how history is boring, but they are wrong -- history is not boring, it's relevant!


message 2: by Ian Mullet (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:08PM) (new)

Ian Mullet exactly. it's like they want us to think history is boring, (the man that is)... because if we knew how interesting it was maybe we would change it!
take "war and peace" for example. that book is an absolute page-turner and it's only half the size of the harry potter series, if even that. yet corporate america holds it up as the poster child of long, dusty, boring books, always mocking it in instant gratification pepsi nation commercials. if only people knew...
and talk about a combination of art and history!


message 3: by Schan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:12PM) (new)

Schan | 1 comments Some of the have never read a good historical nove i.e. Capitan Alatriste
'Whoever forgets their history is bound to make the same errors'


message 4: by Red (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:12PM) (new)

Red Evans | 1 comments Many of us in the two generations ahead of you where most of these concepts are concieved, such as history is boring, were forced to read such books in an environment conducive to being bored. For example, in atomb-like library with no air conditioning and no noise at all except a "ssshhhh" from time to time. Also, teachers from our time seemed to go out of their way sometime to make history boring almost as though they didn't want us to become interested.

In those eras (God, that makes me sound so old) there were no ipods and game stations. we occupied ourselves outdoors with football, baseball, shooting marbles and on and on, but all outdoors. We didn't want to be indoors, heat or cold notwithstanding.

When forced to sit down and read a long book that seems to be unending when you look out the windows and see others shooting marbles or baskets and just playing chase, all books tended to be boring.

You never had it so good. you can take on these books at a younger age than the rest of us. Count your blessings.

Red Evans author On Ice. To order, click HERE!


message 5: by Jordan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:20PM) (new)

Jordan (jordieheartsbooks) I was lucky that my History teachers weren't too bad. I had pretty interesting and exciting assignments. The other thing that got me into History was that my dad was always watching History programming on TV. I'll never forget the day we were watching a program on the Nazis and I saw film fotage of them executing Jews and I watched with horror as people were gunned down. I ran to my room and cried myself to sleep in the middle of the afternoon after seeing a pregnant woman executed simply for being a Jew. I can still conjur that image in my mind. I wanted to know why that all had happened and what made people act that way. Needless to say, we're still searching for answers to some of these questions.......Oh, and I have my B.A. in History.


message 6: by Jim (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:21PM) (new)

Jim one point of view is saying that bad and much worse things happen because good men and women do nothing---obviously simplistic but may be accurate, especially if you expand actors to include good groups,good countries and good alliances--read a really good book about Prussia called The Iron Kingdom. Pointed out that what was done to Germany at end of WWI led to scenario where Hitler-like character could flourish. However book posits that Hitler's rise to power would have been prevented if some "good" internal and/or external entities/persons would have acted at initial stages of Hitler's rise--probably group dynamics take over once a threshhold critical mass is reached. Watch out then because groups can become mobs and nations can become what the United States became in the run up to Iraq-----off topic but may be relevant would be to rent/watch movie called Life Is Beautiful---Difficult to watch but uplifting.............I have my BS in Biochemistry--Jim


message 7: by ☼Book her, (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:15PM) (new)

☼Book her,   Danno☼  (pam_t) People believe History is boring because they have no idea what studying History really means.

History with a capital 'H' is a mystery. Our knowledge is always incomplete and subject to interpretation. It's just plain fun.


message 8: by Sera (new)

Sera Some people may view history as boring, because they view it as full of dates and other figures. It's stories behind this information that are compelling, but that many people don't get a chance to see, because they've already assumed that they would find it to be uninteresting.


message 9: by Alexandra (new)

Alexandra History is just stories that happen to be true. I agree with you Sera, I think many people are only exposed to history in a classroom and think it's boring because summations in text books certainly can be. But in history there's something for almost anyone - romance, adventure, war stories, royalty, intrigue, science and invention....


message 10: by Sera (new)

Sera You are so right, Janis. And, we can so learn so much from the people who have impacted history by their thoughts, action or inaction. To me, history provides the context for most everything else about which we learn.


message 11: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 8 comments I concur with you Janis and Sera...I always thought subjects in school would be made more interesting if they included some historical background on the people who came up with the ideas we were learning about...

For example, pure science bored me to tears, but I was always ineterested in the scientists and inventors who had made the discover of whatever concept we were studying.

Same thing with literature...a lot of time the novels were boring, but if the teacher took the time to give us some info on the author's life and the period that the book covered, I enjoyed the book more.

I think this would work with just about every subject except math.


message 12: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 17 comments I also agree with Janis and Sera - textbooks can be so dry and dusty. I actually teach high school history and am currently trying to break into the upper levels of academia and at both levels it's always the stories that bring the subject to life and keep the students riveted.

My students are far more likely to remember the intrigues of Rasputin's court rather than the significance of Russia's role in WWI. That's not to say that history always needs creepy, monky types to keep it interesting, but for tenth graders it doesn't hurt!


message 13: by Lynn (new)

Lynn (dwell_ondreams) I've been interested in history for as long as I can remember. Mom's always enjoyed history & my sister & I were homeschooled, so she passed that love down to us. I've never been able to get too excited about American history (I blame that on the textbooks), but the ancient civilizations have always fascinated me. History in general is interesting to me, but ancient & medieval is the most fascinating.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

History classes in grade school were predominantly memorization of dates, battles and key figures.
High School expanded to include broad movements within societies.
World Civ in college was just so dense.
It all needed to be accumulated to gain a historical perspective so some patience for my developing understanding over a long period of time was needed.
I had some good teachers and always had an interest.
I notice in reviews here on goodreads that many lack the historical perspective and their reading experience in my opinion lacks the depth of understanding that a historical perspective can give.
I think peoples idea of history as boring may have missed some key links in the study and lack the tolerance to gain undrestanding over time. I think they are missing something.



Don (The Book Guy) (donthelibrarian) Maureen wrote, "I notice in reviews here on goodreads that many lack the historical perspective and their reading experience in my opinion lacks the depth of understanding that a historical perspective can give". What books or actions would you recommend to these people? I have in the last 2 years start sitting on some history seminars and reading a lot of different histories. It has rekindled my interest & love of history that had been buried under work & other duties.



message 16: by Sera (new)

Sera Don, I agree with Maureen that World Civilization is the best way to form the foundation of historical perspective over a long period of time. It forms the basis of history learning; I was a history major in college. It's a great way to get a broad overview and then to begin to study the specifics thereafter.


message 17: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 08, 2008 09:55PM) (new)

Yes, I beleive Norton was the publisher of the World Civilization texts I had in college. (They were called World Civilizations Volume I & II.) The first volume covered the beginning of history to 1840 I beleive. The second was 1840 to the present. Of course the lectures by the professor helped but I don't see why purchasing the texts wouldn't be almost as good and no tuition!
They are huge texts and if they seem too daunting, there are any number of comprehensive popular histories of discrete eras or countries. Search for a period you are interested in. The problem with popular histories is the authors opinion may color the interpretation of historical events. I also really liked a 20th Century European History text I had in High School. I imagine you can still obtain history texts from the publishers. Type in High School history text books in google and see what you get.



message 18: by Sera (new)

Sera Amazon and the other online big chain bookstores sell textbooks, although expect to pay a lot for them, like we did when we were in college. I recently bought some textbooks and many of them were very expensive.


message 19: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 09, 2008 02:26PM) (new)

Hi Sera,

I'm glad to hear Amazon and others have texts!They were harder to get 15-20 years ago. I left all mine in storage which is due to get cleared out and sold or given away and I'd love to replace some of them. The world literature anthologies are worth it as are the survey history texts even if they are $100. There is just so much good reading in them, and much cheaper than buying seperate books.


message 20: by Shatterlings (new)

Shatterlings | 1 comments history at school is so disconnected, theres no flow to it. i did the battle of hastings and then the plague with nothing in between. i love the way when you read simon schama for instance one thing leads to another.


message 21: by Jim (new)

Jim i LOVE HISTORY AND IT'S AMAZING HOW LITTLE ANY ONE KNOWS ABOUT ALL THE HISTORY THAT'S OUT THERE

MY QUESTION IS HOW DO YOU KNOW WHO IS WRITING AN ACCURATE HISTORY OF SOME EVENT, MOVEMENT, INDIVIDUAL

RIGHT NOW READING FREEDOM AT MIDNIGHT ABOUT RETURN BY BRITISH OF SOVEREIGNTY TO INDIA IN 1947

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT IS WRITTEN IS ACCURATE/CORRECT INTERPRETRATION OF WHAT HAPPENED/WHO DID WHAT?


message 22: by Marian (new)

Marian (gramma) | 98 comments The ending of the British "Raj" in India is a good subject for differing points of view. For a more accurate picture, you could read a book written by an Englishman who was on the scene, then a book by a Hindu observer, then another book by a Moslem and perhaps a French or Chinese or Japanese or American. The events that these accounts have in common would,when taken all together, give a fairly accurate picture, especially if you had the time & were able to find accounts by various sub-divisions among the main participants -- ie Hindus who supported British rule, hindus who were active opposition leaders, people just trying to make a living, super-nationalists, ect.


message 23: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Isabella's comments on your question, "How do you know who is writing an accurate history.." are quite good but I would add that there really is no 'accurate' history. History is always going to be colored by the education, experiences, education, biases, and agenda of those who write it. That isn't a bad thing, it just is. And, I think, that is part of what makes history fun, if there was only one version, it wouldn't be history it would be mathmatics :)


message 24: by Kathy (new)

Kathy  Petersen | 15 comments Unless you're doing graduate work in history or planning an academic career in that field, I think the essential attitude for history readers ("leisurereaders"if I may coin the term)is to continually be aware that this book/author is expressing certain perspectives and that there are most probably other viewpoints to consider. I do concur with Isabella's idea about a collective impression, yet a person who dives into an unfamiliar field and then decides that field really isn't for him/her may be stuck with a singularly biased view of Viking exploration or the Stuart dynasty or whatever.


message 25: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 1439 comments A friend of mine gave me a book titled "Lies My Teacher Told Me".

I have always considered myself a history buff, but even I was a little shocked at how one sided my education had/has been.

Yes we all knew the traditional version of Thanksgiving was unrealistic and how Columbus was no longer considered the "hero" of my second grade introduction. But I was pleasantly surprised at the questions this book kept asking. It was almost a joy to have to rethink certain aspects of history and the way it was taught to me in grade school,high school, and college.

History is a little more tricky than most other subjects. With math there is a right or wrong answer, but history is way more subjective and subject to other people's interpretation.

I was once visiting the former Imperial palace in Mexico City (Chapultepec) I was standing in front of a large map of Mexico before 1845. Next to me was a little boy and his father. The little boy didnt recognize the shape of a Mexico double in size. He asked his father..."What happened to it" the father answered "the Gringos stole it from us"
I was shocked and I wanted to argue the point until I remembered his perspective was clearly different from mine.......we were told we had "purchased" Calfornia, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, etc etc


message 26: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1011 comments Mod
I think there's a good reason History "is a little more tricky": it's schitzophrenic. It aspires to sciencehood, but is very much an art.

And there's nothing wrong with it being an art, I think.


message 27: by George (new)

George | 179 comments Well, history is a constant stream. We just have to stand still at some point to perceive it. The problem is that we think what we manage to see is it, which of course isn't true at all, it's just a bit of it. It's just that some of us see a bit more than others, and some of us don't look very much at all.

In Manuel's comments on the Mexicans looking at the map, the comment that all the Northern territories were stolen by the Gringos isn't false, but it does beg the question of how the Mexicans acquired those territories to begin with and how much consent was asked for or given by the people who lived in the area before the Spanish showed up, and why that had no apparent importance for the speaker. Or for that matter, how the Mexicans came to be Mexicans. So, I'd say it is very much like art, as what's important, or isn't, is very much a matter of individual taste and perception.


message 28: by Manuel (new)

Manuel | 1439 comments all your points are very true George.
Individual perception is the key.

I remember a curious sign I saw when I was in the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles.

Basically it said:
We are trying to explain history, please do not be offended or attempt to interpret what happened here. (Im sure it was better written than this)

When I read that, I took it for granted some people were not pleased with the events that took place in that room. Im sure there was something to annoy the French and Germans.


message 29: by Susanna - Censored by GoodReads, Crazy Cat Lady (new)

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (susannag) | 1011 comments Mod
I would imagine the interpretations of the treaty ending the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 might easily irritate German or French visitors, or possibly both.

I'm still amused by the memory of a trip around the Tower of London back in '83. The group behind ours was a French group, with a French guide (obviously). It was then that I learned that the French still call William the Conqueror "Billy the Bastard"!


message 30: by Macy (new)

Macy | 3 comments I've always loved looking at history from different perspectives - but at the same time, I worry that so much of what we base our "knowledge" of history on has been colored by those who were writing it. Aside from conscious decisions to "edit" the story, there is so much that comes through unconciously. I read a book about the Druids a couple years ago and it brought up the point that we (both lay-people and historians alike) can't help but view history through the lens of our own experience. We decide that the Druids must have been doing something for a particular reason simply because it's so embedded in our consciousness that there is only one reason for a particular action.

But what about cultures that have a very different moral structure? Polygamy for example. We see it today as terrible, anti-woman system - but for various cultures in history it worked just fine.

I think that this is one of the things that makes history so interesting - there are so many ways of seeing things! Like the three blind men and the elephant.

(Sorry for the long post - I didn't even get started on some of the things I wanted to!)


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