Admittedly, I thought I had read more books than the ones on this list, but alas it is much smaller than anticipated when I compiled it. I wasn’t expecting anything huge, and 16 books is still a reasonable feat, in my view, but I can’t help but feel a tinge of disappointment that I didn’t get through more. I would, however, suggest that finishing university and keeping up with news events and analysis probably makes up for that. Nevertheless, these are the books I read this past year, with a few thoughts looking back on them and links to piece that refer to them.
Continue reading “My 2019 Reading List”
I have written before about E. H. Carr’s ideas of the “historian and his facts”, of how history can never be “objective” because there are always things that will influence even the most aware observers. I would put forward that this concept also applies to journalists, who are, in a sense, historians of the moment in which they report.
Continue reading “Biases in Journalism and in History”
Interpretation of Historical Fact
Camelot is the myth that surrounds John F. Kennedy, the hero of the American people during a Presidency cut too short by a malicious assassination that changed America’s and the world’s future forever, specifically in relation to Vietnam and the Cold War. This myth, still peddled by many today, perhaps more so given the growing years between us and the events that took place, is nothing more than that – a collation of numerous accounts that all rely on a complete dismissal of fact.
Continue reading “Rethinking Camelot: A Reflection”
I never took modern history in high school, but from what we were taught in the junior years and from what friends who did take that subject told me, what we learned was an extremely watered down and pretty much propagandistically pro-West depiction. I can’t speak for the US education system, but I can only assume that US exceptionalism is a fundamental part of any history taught in school. There are a few examples one could use, but the Vietnam War is probably the most damning.
Continue reading “What School History Doesn’t Teach: The Vietnam War”
History as a Means for Prejudice
As I come to the conclusion of What Is History? by E. H. Carr, I must highly recommend it as required reading for anyone interested in history in any sense of the word. An understanding of earlier thinkers, such as Marx, Hegel, Acton, etc. would be useful but is not necessary; I knew some of the references made, but Carr explains enough so as to not convolute his point with obscure names and ideas. For this piece, I lean back on an assertion made in the first piece and tie it with a topic Carr talks about in the final lecture of the book. This is that history is viewed by the historian (an individual) through the lens of the society he is a product of. This has positive and negative elements, but the isolation of subgroups of humanity (be it geographic, racial, etc.) is a negative that takes form when history is distorted through a prejudicial lens.
Continue reading “What Is History?: A Reflection Pt.4”
The short answer to this rather nuanced question is, in my opinion, yes but with relevant context. I say opinion because there is no ‘right’ answer, and each person might differ in their response on each separate case. There are a number of factors that feed into this, most important being the context of the time period in question.
Continue reading “Can We Judge History Through a Moral Lens?”
History as a Method of Prediction
Again I loosely refer to the concepts introduced by Carr in his book What Is History?, but intend on using that as merely inspiration for my own thoughts on this topic and not as a recounting of his views. I’ve previously written about how history can be used as a comparative tool and as context to more succinctly understand current events (causation, which, coincidentally, is the chapter I am up to in Carr’s book). I have also written a few pieces predicting what I believe may happen in the near future based on the historical context of the region. There are also moral and factual aspects of these predictions that I believe are important, not because they have any bearing on the prediction itself, but on the person who made it and reason it was made.
Continue reading “What Is History?: A Reflection Pt.3”
Societal and Individual Influences
Having finished the second lecture/chapter in E. H. Carr’s book What Is History?, I feel it’s prudent to comment on things as they come up rather than try and whip together an incoherent mess covering all the topics introduced. For this one, I actually don’t have overly much to say on the historical aspect of this lecture – most of which simply elaborated on the previously explored idea that a historian viewed the past through the eyes of present events and as a product of his/her society – but more branching off to consider what he says about the “society and the individual” (the title of the lecture).
Continue reading “What Is History?: A Reflection Pt.2”
Interpretations of Historical Fact
I tentatively title this “Pt.1” as this is merely a train of thought following what I have read so far of E. H. Carr’s What Is History?; that is, I have only read the first lecture so far and will probably comment on the rest when I get around to it. The first lecture is entitled “The Historian and His Facts”, and it offers a perspective on history I hadn’t considered before (and that I agree with to an extent), as well as talking about a point I’ve written about previously – albeit much less succinctly than Carr – and that is how history is “an unending dialogue between the present and the past.”
Continue reading “What Is History?: A Reflection Pt.1”
At no point in modern history, or perhaps one could argue any point in recorded human history, has the world not had some state of conflict between one or more groups of people. To have knowledge of history is to know that humanity has an unnerving addiction to violence as a means and an end to and of their goals. It’s ironic that humanity is used synonymously with kindness when our species seems incapable of grasping what that even means in times of war.
Continue reading “War and Civilisation”