Monday, June 28, 2010

Politics and History

No doubt politics is a weird landscape. I would venture to say the same thing about the chronicling of history. I believe that a great deal of thought and research must go into deciphering the true motives behind the perpetrators of both to gain a more objective view. This inherent weakness is made obvious in three titles that I've been thinking about recently. The first work is entitled, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. In it, the author discusses some of the truer motives that served as the driving force behind the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution. One of the biggest, fear of German and Irish immigrants, is unsurprisingly very similar to the anti-immigrant sentiment currently playing itself out in Congress. The next title is, Empire of the Summer Moon. Here, the author cites incidences of brutality that suggest, at least in the case of the Comanche Indians, they too were to blame for a great deal of the blood-letting and atrocities that occurred in much of the middle of the country during the settlement of the West. Lastly is the juggernaut, A People's History of the United States, 1492 - Present. It is easy to gain a sense of the author's bias and political leanings reading this work. However, it does introduce ideas and supporting evidence that at the very least help to form a well-rounded, plausible, and more likely view of political and historical events as opposed to the clear-cut, good against evil narrative I was accustomed to reading while in grade school.

1 comment:

tim snead said...

I heard Okrent and Gwynne interviewed on NPR (not at the same time) and meant to get those books. Thanks for reminding me.