Sunday, July 6, 2014

Book Review of Here is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History by Andrew Carroll

Product DetailsPity the poor suffering student trapped in a stuffy classroom with an aging professor droning away about white guys fighting. For most students that depressing scenario constitutes a history class; dates, a succession of wars, and who is trying to kill whom. If only they had Andrew Carroll. Under his skillful storytelling, forgotten history unfolds as a fascinating journey into the past.

History becomes more that a succession of place names and battles. Carroll explores not only how these forgotten places forged our identity as Americans, but why they have been forgotten in the in first place. Women and minorities are often shortchanged in history books, but many previously forgotten accomplishments are enthusiastically set forth.

The details are fascinating, but part of the appeal is the author also journeyed to these sites and often met with eye witnesses or direct descendants to add another layer of interest. One story leads whimsically to another. Some are amusing. Richard Hart, a federal agent who fought bootleggers was Al Capone’s brother. Some are chilling. Madison Grant was a fervent conservationist who saved the buffalo from extinction and the redwoods from the lumberman’s axe. He was also a die-hard racist whose writings influenced Adolf Hitler.

Well-written history should read like well-written fiction and this certainly does. Be warned. After reading this book, you will have a difficult time passing a historical marker.

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