I was not a fan of history as a kid. I’d say it was probably one of my least favorites due to its dryness and inability to catch our less-than-focused attention.
Frankly we just weren’t that excited by The Phoenicians, The Greeks, The Romans. We could respect what they’d achieved… all those centuries ago, but it just felt that it had nothing to do with us. (Self-centeredness being a core value of our demo at the time).
In hindsight, I can’t quite understand why they didn't begin with a ‘more recent’ century, or even the one we actually resided in. World War II would have been fascinating to me.
Knowing my grandfather fought in it (well, truth be told, apparently he was primarily ‘relaxing’ in the officers’ mess in North Africa for most of it, by all accounts), WWII seemed a tactile, common experience for us, living in Wales, with our grandparents’ generation having all been impacted in some way.
But no, it was the ‘Classic Grecian, Roman eras’ or nothing, so we were force-fed history from Africa and the Middle East as opposed to anything relatable to us. It would not have been a drier experience had I added sand to my lunch.
That’s not to say I had no interest in places further afield, but would have loved some stronger resonance and identification to have got the class inspired for more.
Fast forward 30 years, and I’m fascinated by the subject that I once couldn’t tolerate. Maybe it’s because I now have my ‘own’ history, or as I’ve learned more in life, I see the commonalities, the thread which ties it all together.
I also love the randomness of some of it. The ‘What if’s’ had certain events gone differently.
Example: I Came across an incident called the ‘Zimmerman Note’, something I had no knowledge of before this week. And it just caught my attention, sparked off those receptors, and had me musing on it for a moment.
Zimmerman’s Note was in fact a telegram sent during WWI, before the US had committed to entering the war. This telegram was intercepted by the US on its way from an Arthur Zimmerman at the German Foreign Office to the Mexican government suggesting an alliance to distract the US from Europe by Mexico siding and being financed, by Germany.