I was at a dinner party a few weeks ago when a good friend asked me what I was reading. To this I replied, “Oh the Ferrell one volume biography of Nixon!” (Yes, the exclamation point is needed.)
“No, I mean for fun.”
“The Ferrell one volume biography of Nixon!”
My friends don’t really get it. At my book club — which I started with the hopes that I could convince the participants to only read nonfiction US History stuff, to no avail — when I mentioned that in addition to our selection for the month, I also had finished the Nixon book, one of my friends visibly shuddered! I mean, come on, it ain’t that bad, is it?
I love to read about American History. I just finished John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage and immediately started on the only definitive biography of Aaron Burr Fallen Founder only moments later. Some may say I have a problem.
But I’m constantly looking for something. I’m looking for the reminder that our nation has been in similar circumstances to today’s and how we moved through them. I’m looking for different definitions of what it means to be an American in different time periods. I’m looking for examples of patriotism and fortitude. I’m looking for the truth.
All this reading has reinforced my firmly held conviction that no one is all good or all bad. As Oscar Wilde wrote, “every sinner has a future; every saint has a past.” Accepting that nothing is black and white has benefited me in so many ways over the years. It has helped me be patient, understand others whose ideas differ from mine, and allowed me to put myself in other people’s shoes. I am not always successful at these things! I keep trying, nonetheless.
Even though “history repeats itself” is a too-often quoted cliché, it is true! I have been so surprised on many occasions to learn about our ancestors’ antics and that they used the same logic or tactics as we see today. Our nation has followed this aphorism too — for good and for ill.
So don’t make fun of me! I like to read history for fun! I admit it, and honestly think you should try a book or two yourself. Hit me up for some great recommendations.