I’m terribly interested in history. Just ask anyone who knows me.
I take trips to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania from time to time. It’s best if a friend will come along, since then I can give a tour.
They watch the 30 minutes of Ken Burns Civil War that concerns Gettysberg and the fight on Little Round Top. The first place we stop is on that hill.
I explain what happened there, 358 men holding out against more than 800. They piled rocks up for cover and fought like crazy. The defenders were down to about 200 men when they ran out of ammo. So they fixed bayonets and charged….and by some miracle managed to win.
At the end of the talk I pick a pebble up and hand it to whoever came along. “This might be part of that wall.” I say. Usually there’s a bunch of misty eyes all around, including my own.
After that we always walk all over the battlefield. If the weather’s nice we hop a few fences and see parts of the park that no one except the forest rangers have visited for a century.
The reason I’m writing this is due to this post, where Michael Hiteshew asks for history text suggestions. It seems that he wants to encourage his 24 year old daughter to develop an interest in history.
Many people have left comments, and after reading them I now want to go out and get several of the books that have been suggested. But just about everyone has missed the target.
See, you don’t read a book about history and enjoy it until after you are already interested in history!
This is very important, but it’s tough for people who are already passionate about our past to understand that there are those who don’t share our interest.
The only person who understands the basics is Fuz. He suggested that Michael start with an old documentary entitled The Day the Universe Changed by James Burke. It’s very engaging, easy to watch, and it shows how decisions and events echo through the centuries.
Hey, isn’t that why we’re interested in history? Because we want to see how we got here?
Michael, forget the 1,000 page books. If she’s not interested before you give her a huge tome like that she’ll take one look at it and use it for a doorstop. Listen to Fuz and lay the groundwork before you saddle her with college level reading material.
And if you’re every planning a trip to Gettysburg, I’ll meet you there.