Monday, May 10, 2010

On Locusts, Tornadoes, And Railroads

I’ve never been much of a history buff. In high school, I dropped history as soon as I could (Dutch school system—I could do that). My history teacher had a knack for making class as boring as humanly possible.

A few weeks ago, I started watching The History Channel’s America: The Story of Us, since it looked like a great way to get some insight into this country’s history. And it rocks! Instead of tuning in to the happenings of Desperate Housewives on Sunday evening, my love and I are riveted by the drama of the railroad workers, civil war soldiers, and the first settlers in Nebraska (the locusts, the tornadoes!).

The reason I’m so in love with history? It’s the stories of the people. The Chinese railroad worker whose son became the first Chinese Engineering graduate at Berkeley. The tenacity of African Americans, the heartbreaking end of the Native American way of life, and the millions of buffalo killed for their hides. The tough women (true feminists, I’m telling you) who worked in the textile factories, the Nebraska wheat fields, the Colorado mines. Riveting stories—a smorgasbord for us writers.

So yeah, I’m a history geek now. It’s where all the great stories are. Check out this History Channel program (they have episodes online, too) when you have a chance; you won't be disappointed.


  1. I'll have to check it out.

    And I'll admit to becoming a history fan much after high school. Maybe it was the focus on memorizing dates. Or that you could tell they were holding something back--that we weren't getting "the rest of the story" as Paul Harvey used to say.

    You nailed it when you said it's about the people. The good and the bad. And how they took all that awful stuff and turned it into something amazing.

    History Channel rocks!

  2. It does rock :-) That American Pickers show is also pretty interesting if you ever get a chance to watch it.

    I'm becoming more nerdy the older I get, I think...

  3. Thanks for mentioning this. I saw it ON DEMAND and wondered what it was. And I was a history major in college.

  4. It's a great way to get an overview of American history, though it does gloss over some of the details.

    The focus seems to be the American tenacity/pioneer spirit, which sends a nice hopeful message at a time when things are pretty glum.