The History Wars
Posted by Dave Bath on 2006-11-02
In Australia, the social conservatives have initiated the History Wars, calling for increased history teaching in schools, and a focus on fundamentals, traditional European perspectives, and other phrases comforting to the ear of an increasingly ignorant electorate. All thinking people in the Western tradition will agree totally with such calls, and recommend that before finishing school, all students should return to the traditional texts of European Historians. The wisdom and perspective of these traditional histories should be used as the model for newly-written histories.
Here are two recommendations for books that the social conservatives cannot repudiate, along with a quick take on their socially progressive attitudes.
- Herodotos: The Histories
The land and water have a great influence on the physique and attitudes of people, thus their cultures and civilizations, until (after much gossip in the Gore Vidal mode, and much used in his novel “Creation“), the twin glories of Persia and Greece collide.
You can download this work free-of-charge through Project Gutenberg: Volume 1, Volume 2, or using the Index of Herodotos’ works. Alternatively, view it through Google Books.
- Gibbon: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
A cynical, considered retelling of how a society can destroy itself, through populist appeal, military adventurism, promulgation of mind-numbing religion, and the use of fear and greed, unless contolled by learning, tolerance, secularism and the interests of the people, all told with a biting humor.
You can download this work free-of-charge through Project Gutenberg, although, as it comes in quite a few volumes, I recommend using the Index of Gibbon’s Works. Alternatively, view it on-line via Google Books.
Together, these books address problems threatening our world community, global warming, the links between greed and politics, fear and control, wars and peace. They should be more widely read, and we would suffer less from the effects of social conservatives, climate-change naysayers, and warmongering demagogues.