Why History Matters

Discussion in 'Non Sun City Related Discussions' started by carptrash, Aug 11, 2020.

  1. carptrash

    carptrash Active Member

    This thread could be an extremely quick dead end but it is arising out of a discussion between Geoffrey de Villehardouin and me about ....... well why history matters. We discovered that we both had an early kick start to an interest in Rome after discovering Caesar and the hundred years or so surrounding him. Here is a recent read of mine that explores one view on why history matters.

    Mike Duncan is the author of the history of the end of the Roman Republic, “The Storm Before the Storm.” Here he is discussing the work.

    “ Mike Duncan: When I was going through this era for The History of Rome back around 2007/2008, I was struck by how important the period spanning the Gracchi brothers, Marius, and Sulla was to understanding the looming collapse of the Roman Republic. You really can’t understand the end until you understand the beginning of the end. As I continued to think about the period, I was struck by how many parallels there were to the state of contemporary American politics. Rising economic inequality was disrupting traditional ways of life. Endemic social and ethnic prejudice was leading to clashes over citizenship and voting rights. Once rock solid norms of political behavior were being tossed aside left and right in the ruthlessly partisan pursuit of raw power. And it doesn’t exactly end well. So hopefully, the book shines a light on a critical and fascinating period of Roman history while leaving the reader with some mild dread about the future of American history.”

    Enough said. I found the book in the Sun City Library (Bell Rd) and urge any and everyone to check it out. Pun intended.
  2. CT, we obviously ride with the same cohort. I read this book just before this Covid thing hit. Excellent book. One of my oldest friends was visiting in February with his wife for some Spring Training action and I loaned my copy. He is also a history jock from Drake University ‘72 and finished a third of it before returning home.

    The last Roman history book I read before Storm was SPQR by Mary Beard. Entertaining with a sly sense of humor . She also has some series on Netflix I believe where she travels Europe going into the Empire. The was also a short series on Netflix titled The Medieval Way of Death which I enjoyed. Turns out one of the chapel in London is surrounded by a mass grave from the Pestilence.

    Hoping to go back to Europe in the next couple of years bringing the Significant Other/Life Partner as she hasn’t been there since 1969. She really wants to meet my Dutch friends, although she has talked to them on the phone. There are places I want to go back to such places as Albi and Carcassone France, Florence, Siena and Rome with some wandering Tuscany and the Adriatic coast. I also want to work in Germany and Poland (father’s side of the family was from West Prussia which is now Poland). I would actually like to live in Europe for about four months and travel. I have convinced Diane to take a Cunard cruise in the future to England and spend a couple of weeks in London and environs as there are many great museums and galleries that are free. A big plus is the free concert Thursday afternoons at St Martins in the Field on Trafalgar Square.

    One final thing, I am a big map person which brought me to a antiquarian map store in Haarlem, NL. I purchased a map of West Prussia from the mid 1600’s showing the towns my ancestors came from. I want to have this puppy framed soon.

    Nice communicating with you, definitely get together and have a few beers, talk some history. What is your view on 25 year old scotch?
  3. IndependentCynic

    IndependentCynic Active Member

    Alas, I'm an engineer, not a history guy... so, I'll just be a fly on the wall here. Other than the basics taught in public schools, the book Salt: A World History (2003, Mark Kurlansky) and an economic geography course in college (mostly about how borders changed as countries fought to gain control of natural resources) are the extent of my depth. But history, and it's exposure of the cause/effect, have always been interesting and insightful to me.
  4. Welcome to the site IC. It’s always good to have a person who has a deep interest in history no matter what their background. In spite of having a degree in history and an abbreviated career as a teacher, I was a surety bond underwriter writing guarantees on public and sometimes private construction projects.

    I am familiar with Mark Kurlansky as I read his book 1968 The Year That Rocked The World some years ago.

    If you are looking for a good book on early Colonial history, I recommend Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. He is a maritime historian so his subjects involve the sea. Another one of his books of interest is Cod. Give them a try.

    Again, thanks for posting here and tell your friends.
  5. carptrash

    carptrash Active Member

    GdV, if you are doing Albi and Carcassone then you must be into the Albigensian Crusade. I figure that everyone who gets involved in that story must have been incarnated then and there. I am also a Mark Kurlansky fan and will too his Basque History of the World into the mix. For more Roman history the Bell library has an interesting little tome on the Battle of Cannae. There is a lot of interesting history stuff out there, I figure history goes back four or five thousand years, all over the world, so there was always at least half a dozen amazing stories going on all the time. My current read (one of four) is Red Summer, about the race riots in the US in 1919 - that same year as the last major flu hit. Full of more lessons that should have been learned a century ago.
  6. CT, I had cursory interest in the crusade until I went there with my Larry.

    He had never been to the Continent before and we had talked about this trip for over thirty years. Finally we were both retired and I told him to make a list of what he wanted to see. He came back with three legal sized pages and I told to cut it down unless he wanted to move there for a year. He cut it down to one page when he and his wife were visiting. I asked him how long he wanted to be gone and he said two weeks. I said that was unrealistic and his list would take about ten weeks which his wife agreed to as she was still working. Finally I said how long do you want to spend in each city and we got it down to a touch over five weeks. Since he is and attorney and a good attorney never asks a question unless he already knows the answer, I said at the end of the trip I have a question for you. So we are sitting in Schipol airport in NL and I ask him was this trip enough and he answered, no. We are trying to plan something where we are gone for maybe two months plus. We both want to return to the city of Bergamo, Italy. Beautiful preserved medieval city. We only spent a day there.

    I am familiar with the battle of Cannae as I took a survey of ancient history and my professor was Dr. Robert Hohlfelder currently professor emeritus at University of Colorado. He was excellent and Roman history was his specialty.

    In addition to reading I have a ton of CDs from The Great Courses. Since I am a walking medical school I have a battalion of docs all over the valley and I listen to the courses while traveling. I have seen some of these in the library and also at the Friends of the Library bookstore at Bell.

    Sorry for the underlining, it just came up and I cannot get rid of it. I have an iPad if you can help me on this.

  7. carptrash

    carptrash Active Member

    For starters i don't have an Ipad, nor use my phone for anything but a phone, so I can't help you there. I realize that this makes me a marginal luddite, but i consider that to be a compliment rather than an insult. Barring the occasional jaunt into Canada or Mexico I have not been out of the US in a quarter of a century but as a kid my Dad worked for the Food & Agriculture Organization whose HQ was (is) in Rome so we would got here for a short while every two years. Needless to say that acted as a great spur to my interest in Roman history. But I must say that my most driving area of historical interest is cultural. I have been working at the study of American sculpture history for 30 odd years, some of them very odd, and sort of specialize in architectural sculpture. Since much of that is based on Greco-Roman precedents it all ties together nicely. My other cultural history interest in music, but will save that for later. You also asked what i thought of 25 year old scotch. I doubt that I have ever tasted any but am always up for something new. Especially if it is something old.
  8. carptrash

    carptrash Active Member

    So recently I've been going over, trying to computerize the family history stuff that my late parents generated over a long time. Dad was particularly active and liked to relate little stories about ancestors when he could find one. Here is one that he translated from a very obscure language from the year "about 800" involving family member Olver "barnakarl" or Olver "baby man". Here is what was written about him. He was "an excellent man in Norway; he was a great viking. He did not permit babies to be tossed from spear point to spear point, as was then common among vikings; for this reason he was called 'baby-man.'" Someone in the family to be proud of.
  9. CT, very cool story and it was great your Dad gathered all this information.
    I just checked and it was taken down from CNN news, but yesterday I read an article yesterday regarding Vikings and their genetic makeup. It turns out from DNA testing on skeletons from various sites shows that Vikings came no only from Scandinavia, but also from central and Southern Europe. Although some were blonde, apparently they mostly had brown hair. Another fact was that some came from southern Italy and what is now southeastern France.
    The semi-disclaimer is more excavation of known sites needs to be done along with more genetic testing.
    Back in the college days when I took a course in archeology, it mostly consisted of digging up sites and interpreting what you found. My old ancient history prof was into underwater archeology, specifically Roman hydraulic cement. This underwater thing was relatively new then as SCUBA equipment was getting more sophisticated. Now they have archeologists who specialized in teeth, hair, bones, trees, mortar, etc. I just find it fascinating that we can learn so much more with tiniest bit of remains.
  10. carptrash

    carptrash Active Member

    What is cool about history (opinion) is that pretty much anything you are interested in has a history. I am interested in art. So, art history. I like music a lot, so, music history. And so it goes.
  11. carptrash

    carptrash Active Member

    Hey Geoff de Ville:\Read a great history book, "Black Flag" about the Civil War in Kansas & Missouri. Basically it is about what happens when civilians and not armies foght the war and it is not pretty. Ans as we have mostly forgotten it, are we condemned to relive it? I can loan you the book if you are interested.
  12. CT, sorry for the late response. I saw a review of this book in the book review section of the NYT and it was given a great review. My knowledge is a little thin in this area but at least I know what a Jayhawker is and who John Brown was ( I am amazed, maybe not, that there are young people who never heard of him).

    I have been on a binge reading lately as I have four books I am trying to finish up, Massacre at Montsegur (Albigensian Crusade, very informative), Chronicles of the First Crusade, Fear (I can only take so much of Trump’s incompetence and crime family), The Evening and the Morning ( fiction by Ken Follett about Anglo Saxon England in late 900’s. Prequel to the Pillars of the Earth trilogy). So taking you up on your offer will have to wait a few weeks.
    Ordinarily I do not loan out books except to my close friends but I will make an exception. If you have a DVD player I am a great customer of The Great Courses and have one on The Black Death. What makes it terrific is the professor, Dorsey Armstrong. I first learned of her from a previous course and fell in love with her teaching style and the way she recites Canterbury Tales. Where was she when I was in high school battling though understanding this? She is an expert on the Arthurian legend and wish she was at Southern when I was an undergraduate. Willing to loan this to you as I think you will enjoy it. Let me know your thoughts.

    Deus vult illud!
  13. carptrash

    carptrash Active Member

    Ha !!
    Well by informing me about "The Evening and the Morning" you also talked me out of borrowing anything else. I went to the library on-line and requested both the large print (970 pages) - where I was 43rd in line and the regular print (913 pages) where I was 147th in line)- figuring that I will cancel one when the other arrives. That will keep me in reading for quite a long time. I am also very interested in the Albigensian Crusade, though find it often difficult to read since so many folks seem to have the same names. It's worse than trying to figure out my family tree. Since I have been doing a lot of post-apocalypse movie viewing recently the Black Death is particularly appealing. I also do not lean stuff out much but since there is no one around interested in any of my books it is not really an issue. Anyway. thanks for the Follett tip.
  14. carptrash

    carptrash Active Member

    Speaking of John Brown, I was walking through the Capitol of Kansas building, looking for sculpture, rounded a corner and ran into this guy who is HUGE. Rather freaked me out.


    Attached Files:

  15. carptrash

    carptrash Active Member

    In September 2020 trump announced that he was forming a committee to respond to the "twisted web of lies” that passed as history in American schools. On December 18, 2020 trump appointed the 1776 Commission and they presented their report, "The 1776 Report” on January 8, 2021, after slightly less than a month of deliberation. When looking up information on the committee members all the ones I could find started with “a conservative” something. So anyway I am trying to work my way through it for my daughter, who actually is an historian, and here is a far as I’ve gotten. This is a quote:
    “In two decisive respects, the United States of America is unique. First, it has a definite birthday: July 4th, 1776. Second, it . . …” but we don’t care about “second”, yet, let us look at the first part of that quote. First of all, the word “unique,” no surprise, means, “being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else.” Remember when you were in middle school (or when ever) and you learned that in a true or false situation, if any part of a sentence is false then the whole thing is false. That is what using the word “unique” does. It means that if I can find another country, a republic, that has a birthday, then this stuff is false, and from my perspective broadly suggests that the whole document is badly tainted. This is, after all on page 1.
    What I found was that Central America, South America, Asia, Europe, the Pacific islands, and Africa are all loaded with republics that have birthdays. Look up the easy to remember “List of Republics” on wikipedia and spend some time there. It’s fun.
    So now the real work begins. Pages 2 through 45. Or do I bother?
  16. CT, sorry for the late response. I had some computer issues and the SO took a tumble on her patio while trying to break down an extremely large box and her shoes were not tied tight. Nothing broken or fractured but some hurt pride and a few bruises.

    To the business at hand, I am familiar with the 1776 project and to summarize in one word, crap. The chair and co-chair are from Hillsdale College in Michigan. It is a seriously right wing college religious school who believes in Dominionism. If you are not familiar with this, basically evangelical Christians who believe Christianity is destined to rule the United States and Biblical law supersedes secular law. Think Manifest Destiny of the mid 1800s. If you want to receive their monthly publication Impris, write to them and they will send it free. They will also hustle money from time to time. I took a couple of their free online courses with a chat board after each lecture and let’s say I did not make any friends. Actually these students are being brainwashed in our history that at times is neither accurate nor truthful.

    The Civil War historian and Frederick Douglass biographer, David Blight, said not only was this not peer reviewed, but the alleged historians who worked on this had no real background in U.S. history. Sounds like a winner to me.

    On a brighter note, I recently purchased a book based on reviews and making the NYT top ten non fiction books of 2020. The book is Ravenna, Capital of an Empire, Crucible of Europe by Judith Herrin and is about not surprisingly about the city of Ravenna, Italy. What makes this of potential interest to you is it covers the years c 395 to 813. It has a crumbling Roman Empire, seat of the Church moving from Rome to Milan to Ravenna, Goths, Vistogoths, Ostrogoths, wars, women emperors and all sorts of cool stuff. It is very readable and extremely beautiful plates of the interiors of churchs from the time. A teaser for you, Ravenna is known for mosaics and you will see why. Galla Placidia is one tough woman and you will be pleased to meet her. Final kicker, after Dante was kicked out of Florence, he moved to Ravenna and is buried there. Hope I grabbed your attention.
  17. carptrash

    carptrash Active Member

    Sorry to hear about your pride, but there are worse things to damage.
    I am very familiar with Hillsdale College, my former boss's husband got all of us subscriptions to Impris, and I think I still get it in New Mexico, I stopped reading it decades ago, but wanted them to pay to postage. Do you remember the scandal with President George Roche III? He was a leader of the Family Values movement . . ..before this happened. I am a well known (in my family anyway) historian of architectural sculpture and other things that architects do to their buildings to make them beautiful. So I know about Ravenna and their mosaics and in fact have a nice coffee table book about them from my old haunting library book sales days. Ravenna Mosaics is also the name of an American firm that did fantastic work in all sorts of churches and public buildings in the US. One of Biden's first moves was to disband the 1776 Commission so I think we have seen the last of them, although it could resurface as proof of the socialists attempts to destroy America's real history.
  18. carptrash

    carptrash Active Member

    Hey GdeV:
    I could not help but think of you while watching "Knight of the Dead", a zombie film set during the Black Death in which the Holy Grail makes an appearance. So something for everyone. I can't decide if it belongs in my "Zombie" section or the "Middle Ages" section. Any ideas?

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