Why John Loves History

Let’s start out with the elephant in the room.  The way history is usually taught in school is responsible for most of us hating history.  We were forced to memorize dates, names, places and events.  What we should have been taught is history as stories involving people.  When you learn about people, when they lived, what incredible events they participated in, that sticks with you.  In fact, it becomes both fun and interesting.  I was lucky.  My senior year in high school, i took an elective course called Russian History.  It was taught by Mr. Perretta, and we learned about the rulers of Russia (emperors, empresses, czars, etc) but what we studied were accounts of their lives, what they did, what events were a part of their lives and their impact on those events.  It’s the very first time that i found history interesting.

Fortunately, it stuck with me.  I find myself ignoring the dates and places and focusing on the people when i read about historical events. Now i gravitate toward things which present history in this way.  For instance, rather than read books about history, i read books about people.  Biographies.

Books like:   (click on any image to go to Amazon)





































These are just a few examples, but if you read these books, you will find yourself learning history, and it will be interesting!  That’s a win-win.

What Else?

Are there other ways to learn history in an interesting and non-boring way? I am sooooo glad you asked!

Any and every Ken Burns special on PBS.  Almost all of them are available on Netflix and also for purchase on Amazon. Just a few of the ones i’ve watched:

  • The Civil War
  • The War (about World War II)
  • The West
  • Baseball (yes, it’s full of history)
  • Jazz
  • Prohibition
  • The Dust Bowl

How about some historically accurate movies?

And There’s More!

I’ve saved the best for last.  My very favorite history source is the 4 times a year podcast by Dan Carlin called Hardcore History.  You can go to his website and purchase prior shows for $1 each or collections of his series on different topics. BUT, the best way is free, you can listen to his podcast!  Each show runs 3 to 4 hours.  They are all compellingly interesting and tackle some pretty interesting subjects using thoroughly researched sources.  Just two of his topics:

  • Wrath of the Khans (about Genghis and his descendants
  • Blueprint for Armageddon (about WW I)

Both of those series have 5 or more episodes each clocking it at 3 to 4 hours and chock full of stuff you never ever heard in school.  He also provides book-lists for any who want to go even deeper.  Most importantly, Dan Carlin is a good story teller. You can go to his website at: DanCarlin.com and access both his Hardcore History podcast audio as well as his archives.  He also has another podcast which runs monthly called Common Sense and is about current issues.  It can be accessed from the same site.  If you find that you enjoy his Hardcore History as much as i do, you can subscribe to the podcast for free in iTunes or if you have a podcast app like i do, you can enter this link http://feeds.feedburner.com/dancarlin/history

If you have other books or movies that have impacted you or drawn you into their history or even better, made history interesting, please post about them in the comments.

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