Meeting those from History

“I feel sorry for anyone who misses experience of history, the horizons of history.  We think little of those who, given the chance to travel, go nowhere.  We deprecate provincialism.  But is it possible to be as provincial in time as it is in space. Because you were born into this particular era doesn’t mean it has to be the limit of your experience.  Move about in time, go places.  Why restrict your circle of acquaintances to only those who occupy the same stage we call the present?”

– David McCullough, Brave Companions – Portraits in History, p.223

nature spring 2009 046

“Get to know the great and noble human spirits in history and literature.”

Elder Eric B. Shumway, Ensign November 2008, p. 56.

When I was young, I read voraciously.  I went through a period of time in which I had a hard time connecting to books.  Recently, I’ve rekindled that joy in reading as I have started to look into histories and non-fiction writing.  I’ve especially loved listening to books on CD from the library while I do the very important, but at times mind numbing work of domestic upkeep (cleaning, cooking, laundry and driving among other things).  In no way do I count myself as an expert on the subject as I’ve just begun to really appreciate the value of self-education.

I will however, list some enjoyable books that I’ve read and ask you to do the same.  I am also curious about your recommendations.  So please list your favorite historical and/or non-fiction books, topics of books that you’d like to study,  and any recommendations for others.

Historical/Biographical –

  • 1776, David McCullough
  • John Adams, David McCullough
  • Brave Companions (Portraits in History), David McCullough
  • The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution, David O. Stewart
  • Einstein: His Life and Universe, Walter Issacson
  • Boy: Tales of Childhood, Roald Dahl
  • The Presidents of the Church: Insights into their Lives and Teachings, Truman Madsen

Haven’t read but want to –

  • Salt: A World History, Mark Kurlansky
  • Kings of the Hill, Dick and Lynne V. Cheney (about congress)
  • God in the White House, a history : how faith shaped the presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush, Randall Balmer
  • Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Stacey A. Cordery ( About Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter and how she shaped politics behind the scenes)
  • Washington Itself, E. L. Applewhite (guide to the city landmarks of Washington DC)

Any Recommendations? (Looking for good books about ) –

  • Elisa R. Snow
  • Catherine the Great
  • Queen Victoria/ Prince Albert
  • Marjorie Pay Hinckley (or any of the Prophet’s wives or Mothers)
  • Any former Relief Society, Young Women, or Primary President’s Biographies
  • William Wilberforce
  • Jane Austen
  • Wordsworth or Whitman
  • Winston Churchill

Of course, this is not in any order, nor is it comprehensive in nature.

I really feel that it is important to learn from those that went before.  My father has been fighting cancer off and on for years now.  I’ve always considered him my “link” to family history, the one to go to for all of the answers.  The problem is, a lot of my Dad’s knowledge is an oral history.  I think that it is so important that the stories and memories of my family are preserved for future generations. Because, unlike these noble, notable names of figures in history, the legacies of my predecessors is not as well documented.

David McCullough (Brave Companions, p.206-7) said that as he was researching for his biography on Truman, he interviewed a man, a retired Secret Service Agent, who “knew not only Truman but Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, and Eisenhower as well.”  Mid-way through the interview, McCullough embarrassed, apologized for asking him questions about things that he must have been asked to talk about many times before.  The man replied that no one had ever asked him about any of it.

My Mom, in Africa where she was born and raised.
My Mom, in Africa where she was born and raised.

My mother said that people used to ask her about her story, but lately, people don’t seem to be interested.  She’s lived a brilliant, exciting, fascinating life.  I hope that I never get tired of learning from and about others.  Well, I’ll just have to add historian to my list of things to do!

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