My very first class in college was a European history class. It was in a large lecture hall which made it hard to hear the professor. On the first day of class my professor came in, put his books down and told us everything we learned in high school history was wrong and now that we were paying for our educations, he was here to correct that. The hall was quiet after this statement and we all sat with our mouths hanging open feeling betrayed by our high school teachers and boards of education. It was an eye-opening semester for me and I felt more well-rounded after it was completed.
I went on to get a minor in Native American Studies and re-learned all sorts of things I thought were facts. Later, when I met my husband, he introduced me to the books of Howard Zinn. The first book I read of his was A People’s History of the United States: 1492 – Present. This book has been adopted into some high school and college curricula (probably not in Texas). In describing this book, Zinn wrote, “My hero is not Theodore Roosevelt, who loved war and congratulated a general after a massacre of Filipino villagers at the turn of the century, but Mark Twain who denounced the massacre and satirized imperialism. That same feeling of anger and frustration with my public school education burbled up again and made me wish WE had this book as required reading in sturdy old Fargo South High School.
After I finished Zinn’s book, I read James Loewen’s book Lies My Teacher Told Me. This was yet another book which scrubbed my brain and replaced everything I had learned in history class.
Maybe that’s why I majored in journalism. I wanted to know what was behind the curtain and the truth behind the sound bites.
Speaking of sound-bites, HP had been in the news a lot lately as they try to restore the garage where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard “brought their dreams to life.” While they probably did build a few things in a garage, they were already in the business and making contacts and getting investors. We’ve all heard the garage stories where these geniuses are holed up in garages and sheds and built computers and tinkered with the plans for the companies. I read a story that said the plans for Google were hatched on the back of a cocktail napkin. Sounds romantic, right? Of course it does! But it’s all an urban myth. This American Life recently dedicated a show on “origin stories” and had a brief story on the true origins of these companies.
This week on A Closer Look Health and Lifestyle Edition, Pam interviews two archeologists who have written over 40 books on the pre-history of America. Drs. Michael and Kathleen Gear will talk about how our system of government was taken from Native American tribes. On Tuesday August 24th she’ll interview the authors a new book which peels back the veneer of the furious love affair of Richard Burton and Liz Taylor. I’ve read an expert of the book in Vanity Fair and it’s worth checking out!