Two of my favorite books are :
1491. New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus
1493. Uncovering the new world Columbus created.
both by Charles C Mann. Ive read both books several times. What I like about the first, is it challenges standard notions about Native American societies, which are mischaracterized to this day as sort if “noble savage”, living in pristine wilderness in peace and harmony. In reality, there were compkex cultures in the Americas, high population numbers, modifying their environments by engineering structures and agricultural systems that transformed the landscape. They fought wars, enslaved one another, had violent religions, politics, and were utterly, completely, human.
What I lije about the second book is how it shows the transformations that happened in societies atound the planet, as a result of mixing peoples, plants, animals, and ideas everywhere. Potatoes are Incan, not Irish or German or Polish. Turkeys are Aztec, as are tomatoes. Chocolate is Mayan. On and on and on.
I am not an academic historian, but I learn a lot from these books. They are not about kings and popes and priests, wars, and armies. They are much richer and more interesting than that.
Daniel, the Austin bomber looked like such a nice young man. However he clearly had no mentor such as yourself to help open his mind. I think he killed from boredom and a lack of beauty and highmindedness in his life. History of course is the vehicle transmitting such values. Home schooling and religion and business courses were I think the few barren influences he knew. I doubt he even knew of Socrates or the stirring Greek plays or the works of Shakespeare. And he probably never heard anyone say, “Breathes there a man so dead that never to himself has said, this is my country?” I thought of you, Daniel, because it’s possible someone like you might have saved him from his sad lost self. Or maybe I’m all wrong. Maybe I just imagine that the right influence might have captured his imagination and changed his mind and life for the better. I think you teach us all quite a bit here, Daniel, all the time. Just thought you’d like to know we’re listening and appreciating good character and a fine mind.
Uh, yes … it’s breathes there a SOUL so dead, etc. But being atheist I took a little creative license and left the soul part out. Ahem.
Thank you Private. Nice words – I think you give me too much credit, but you encourage me to say more none the less. We all need people to pull open the dusty curtains of our closed worlds and let in the bright sunshine knowledge, reason, critical thinking, and the desire to learn.