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Reading and teaching history todaya new sense of cultural context


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#46 BattementCloche

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Posted 14 April 2004 - 03:42 PM

A chat? Oh dear.... :blink:

Only adding to the risk of turning this into a chat :wub: :

Yay! Another reason to get another degree. "Mom, Dad, I'm really sorry, but if I want to get a degree in Archaeology I have to get one is History and Ancient Languages too! I'm afraid you'll have to dredge up more money for me..."

More than likely I'll just have to get five or six jobs that will keep me going around the clock in order to pay for it. :rolleyes:

#47 BattementCloche

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Posted 15 April 2004 - 01:23 PM

To (hopefully) reverse the direction this is going in (full speed ahead to a chat!)...

Because this thread is entitled Reading and Teaching History Today, I suppose that it is acceptable to discuss good historical literature?
If so, I would like to inquire as to whether or not anyone has read Vimy by Pierre Berton... April 9th was Vimy Ridge Day, commemorating the day in 1917, when, at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, the Canadian troops captured Vimy Ridge in an early dawn raid. Wonderfully written, well researched, and very insightful (though, a warning to those faint of heart: it can be gory, like all war books), I loved this book, just as I do all of Pierre Berton's books. He writes as though he was there, and the way in which he describes the conditions the soldiers had to endure, day after day, month after month, is such that you can feel the rats biting your legs and lice crawling up your back. Of course, I do NOT like that part (all I like about war books is the strategy involved), but it really makes you appreciate what these men (and boys) went through and the things they did in these conditions.
All (moderate) goryness aside, This book was really wonderful. It explains the differences between the Canadians, French, and British armies, and why one army with four divisions conquered when the other armies with 20 divisions couldn't. Speckled with letters from the soldiers to their parents and first-hand accounts, I would reccomend this book to anyone who does not mind a moderate level of goryness and who is interested in this part of history (or who just plain likes the strategy and the personalities behind it all, like I do).

~*~Rosalind

P.S. Is goryness even a word? :P

#48 Mel Johnson

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Posted 15 April 2004 - 01:35 PM

Yes, indeed, in fact Mic31 sent me a copy when I was in hospital a while back. It's a good read, and contains not only the strategy but the combat doctrine of the time, and also the tactics. The book makes them readily understandable even if you've never dealt with military history. And it's well-supplied with first-person recollections of persons involved with the battle, revealing, presumably, something about the ways that they were thinking, but making psychohistory is always dangerous. But that's not Berton's fault, it's something the reader has to be disciplined about. And yes, "goryness" is a word, if a little archaic. It's been largely succeeded by "goriness".

(BTW, you could always do Paleontological Archaeology and end with Neanderthals - there are only so many ways to spell "ugh".)

#49 BattementCloche

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 10:13 AM

Yes, I thought it would probably be 'goriness' and not 'goryness', but then I like all things "archaic". If I had my way, I would do all my school work in Olde Inglis...but then my mother would not be able to read it.
Then again, that is a good point--she wouldn't be able to read it...

(BTW, I could always do Paleontological Archaeology and end with Neanderthals--there are only so many ways to spell "ugh". But how would that look on my resumé? "Master's Degree in how to spell UGH". Oh, so many people would want to hire me then...)

#50 Hans

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Posted 16 April 2004 - 11:07 AM

About as much use as a dance degree :P

#51 BattementCloche

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Posted 19 April 2004 - 01:33 PM

Very true, Hans!

I would like to inquire about another book: has anyone read 'What If?' and/or 'What If? 2' ?
My father received the second What If? Book for Christmas two years ago, and I read it and loved it. I still have to beg the first book off my grandfather.

I must admit that I was rather disappointed at first; I was expecting to have someone start with ‘What if this hadn’t happened’ or ‘What if this had happened instead’ and then launch into how history would have followed after that. Instead, I found that it was rather more of a history lesson. Well, this and this and this and this and this and this and this…(etc. etc. etc.)…happened, but if Caesar had sneezed it wouldn’t have.

Still, it was a very good book.

One of the reasons I was eager to read it was that I’ve always wondered, as I’m sure many people do, about what could have happened if one little, tiny thing had been changed. What if there had been a thunderstorm on the day the Library of Alexandria burned down? Perhaps the fire wouldn’t have spread, and then all of those thousands of scrolls could have been saved. To be quite honest, the mere thought of the burning library brings tears to my eyes. What knowledge could we have gained if it had not burned? What insight into their lives? How many philosophers are unknown to us because their works were destroyed by fire? If only it had rained torrents on that day…

Or what if Archimedes had caught the flu when a baby, and died without the proper treatment? Where would we be now?

What if Socrates had accepted the assistance of his pupils and escaped from prison instead of drinking that fatal cup of poison?

What if Queen Tiy had decided her son Amenhotep (later Ahkenaton) should marry some other girl instead of Nefertiti?

What if Alexander the Great had drunk that flask of water instead of pouring it into the sands and saying, “One should not drink when many are thirsty”?

Or, here’s food for thought: what if Mickey Mouse had never been invented?

There are so many things you can speculate on--and my deepest apologies for dragging on and on and on...

#52 Mel Johnson

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Posted 19 April 2004 - 04:48 PM

What might make a fun read for you would be James Burke's Connections in which the author demonstrates how the aforementioned Alexander made his soldiers shave, so it eventually became possible for astronauts to go to the Moon! :) Plus a lot of other good stuff!

#53 BattementCloche

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Posted 20 April 2004 - 12:13 PM

:blushing:

Yes, that does sound very interesting. I'll have to see if the library has it. That sounds more like what I was looking for; though, it sounds as though it's about how what has happened came to happen. I wonder if there are any books out there about what might have happened instead if such-and-such a thing had been done or if so-and-so had done this.

What if Cleopatra had tripped and fallen on her face when she met Antony? Maybe we would be living on Mars by now if she had. You never know!

#54 BattementCloche

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Posted 20 April 2004 - 12:44 PM

I just went on the library's website and did a search for James Burke; one book that came up that looks interesting is "The Pinball Effect : How Renaissance Water Gardens Made the Carburetor Possible, and Other Journeys Through Knowledge".

I've just found "Connections"; there's three of them (so far). Two are video recordings (Connections and Connections 2) and the other is 'interactive multimedia'. There's also a sound recording which I've just found, but there's no book. Do you know what company publishes it in book form? Maybe I could find the publisher's site and order it through there.

#55 Estelle

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Posted 20 April 2004 - 04:00 PM

What if Cleopatra had tripped and fallen on her face when she met Antony? Maybe we would be living on Mars by now if she had. You never know!

Perhaps you know that quote by Blaise Pascal "Le nez de Cléopâtre, s'il eût été plus court, la face du monde en eût été changée" (If Cleopatra had had a shorter nose, it would have changed the whole world). :blushing:


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