January 02, 2007

HISTORY

I'm still making my way through A Pocket History of the United States; I haven't gotten much reading in during moving time. I'm up to JFK though, and the book only goes through Reagan, so I should get there soon. I've been learning a lot and gaining perspective on our country's lifespan.

One of my favorite bits, from weeks ago, is on the Constitutional Convention:

They were aided in their discussions by the rule of secrecy which the Convention strictly kept. Publicity would have magnified the dissentions; it would have tempted members to make speeches for the galleries or press; and it would have laid them open to pressure from their constituents. The sober citizens of Philadelphia deserved praise for their refusal to pry into the Convention's work. Once at the dinner table Franklin mentioned to friends the old fable of the two-headed snake which starved to death because the heads could not agree on which side of a tree to pass; he said he could give an illustration from a recent occurrence in the Convention; but his friends reminded him of the rule of secrecy and stopped him.

Can you even for a moment imagine this happening today? There's no way that 39 men could work in secrecy to draft a constitution, but thank heavens it happened that way back then.

I also have noticed the book getting slightly less rah-rah about the US, as I mentioned in the preface and as several Amazon readers noted. However, it's not nearly as bad as another book I recently skimmed through. The Girl, bless her heart, loaned me a book called What Every American Should Know About American History. It has some interesting chapters and brings some knowledge to the table, but some of the stuff is just so biased. My husband was the one who noticed that the cover of the book shows six photos that sum up American history...and one of them is of Rodney King! And I about died when I read the two-page chapter called "The Cold War Ends" and there was not one single mention of the words Ronald or Reagan. Give me a break. I love that The Girl sent the book to me (please don't hate me), but some of chapters just killed me.

The Pocket History book isn't that bad, but I think the Red Scare deserved a tiny bit more than a brush of the hand, at least if David Horowitz is even halfway truthful.

Posted by: Sarah at 10:25 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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1 As a history major I marvel at how very little politics played in our founding fathers. One of my favorite reads is the Federalist Papers a kind of behind the scenes thought process of those drafting the Constitution. There were definately two schools of thought, but each side professed their beliefs without attacking the other. Novel idea.

Posted by: Sgt Hook at January 02, 2007 04:14 PM (UEcVc)

2 I'm not offended at all - I actually laughed quite a bit when I read your analysis. The funny thing is the reason that book was purchased was a direct result of a different "history" book. Almost 10 years ago, I was taking a U.S. History class from my local community college in KY. My friend Ambrose was waiting on me to finish my take-home test so that we could go out that evening. I wasn't working quickly enough, so she decided to assist with my test. Granted, I'm from the "South," but she was amazed at the text & the questions showing such incredible bias. (She's a Yankee and all - haha - from PA.) I never will forget one of the questions... it was about the slaves "helping" their owners fight during the Civil War. I thought she was going to choke. At any rate, after she & her husband moved back to PA, I flew up to visit them. We spent an entire day in Philadelphia, doing the whole "tourist" thing. That book was purchased right around the corner from the Liberty Bell... after we walked in the store, and Ambrose shouted something about Lexington "not only" being in KY

Posted by: The Girl at January 02, 2007 08:26 PM (7avAQ)

3 Interesting to read your post today since I am finishing up a course in U.S. History. My current course covers the period from 1865-1945. I took a course a few months ago, before we left Germany, that covered U.S. History up to 1865. I have found the text for these courses quite informative and interesting. My next course covers the period from 1945 to present (or I guess up to whenever the book was written). All three courses come from the same text, which is "Nation of Nations." I have it in electronic format as part of my course. You might find it interesting. I'm glad I'm taking this course at this point in my life because I'm getting so much more from it than I did History classes when I was in high school.

Posted by: Robin at January 03, 2007 04:07 PM (V5aG3)

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