Posts Tagged With: Mayflower

Learning From Thanksgiving

To our detriment, history is often distilled down to a few sentences in our schools. As writer Nathaniel Philbrick writes in Mayflower, “there is a surprising amount of truth” in our “threadbare story of the First Thanksgiving.” It is what happened before and after that people know so little about.

It is a vivid tale of “courage, community and war,” and out of this little told story, a country was shaped. Philbrick writes:

There are two possible responses to a world suddenly gripped by terror and contention…[one way is] to get mad and get even. But…unbridled arrogance and fear only feed the flames of violence. Then there is the [Benjamin] Church [a frontiersman born in Plymouth] way. Instead of loathing the enemy, try to learn as much as possible form him… try to bring him around to your way of thinking. First and foremost, treat him like a human being…and in this he anticipated the welcoming, transformative beast that eventually became — once the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were in place — the Untied States.

In an age where politicians and their followers knowingly try to divide people only to hold on to power, where some of them believe violence is acceptable, where people think wearing masks and harassing people is antifascist, and others think its nothing to fabricate fake fears and crisis to scare people onto their side, perhaps we should for once look to our own history.

We could learn from their trials and tribulations, far worse than our own. Then with crystal clarity, those who seek to undo what was born out of the good and the bad, will be unmasked and exposed.

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Categories: History | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

History Unshackled

Some people are under the impression that studying history is dull or of no interest. Maybe we can blame the way it’s presented in education: Quick, little bites that don’t get into the personalities, the drama and the earth-changing events. Don’t get me wrong, I had some history teachers that knew their stuff and were great at teaching, but they were always limited by time.

Education shouldn’t end at graduation. That’s a mistake most people make. It’s a mistake that can be overcome. Many authors are gifted with research and telling history that is every bit has exciting as a novel or film.

If Pilgrims arriving on the Mayflower and having the first Thanksgiving is about the extent of your backgrounder on the subject, Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower will unveil a far more exciting and nation-shaping series of events. Similarly, after reading his The Last Stand, the Indian Wars and Custer will never be quite the same. Some parts of history don’t always end well, but we must learn from them just like any other.

If you ever wondered why so much focus has been put on a single battle like Gettysburg, Noah Andre Trudeau’s Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage, told largely through the eyes of those who fought, will show how war reveals the best, and worst, of men.

Everyone thinks of the Cuban Missile Crisis as the close call of the Cold War, but we were at the brink far more times than that. Books like 15 Minutes and The Dead Hand detail the frightening world that few knew existed.

So start stockpiling some books before winter sets in and prepare to fascinated, amazed and shocked. You’ll wonder why you ever stopped learning or thought it dull or unnecessary.

You are in charge of your education. That education didn’t stop years ago. It only barely had begun.

Categories: Books, History, Modern History, Native Americans | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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