Book Review: Unsolved Mysteries of American History

This book was a gift, I think. Maybe it’s been on my TBR shelf for so long, I can’t remember. Unsolved Mysteries of American History, by Paul Aron.

If you’re looking at that title and thinking cheesy titillation and misinformation was contained with the covers, you might be right. At least part right. There is some gasp, shock, and awe writing going on but there is also a strong measure of interesting information. The author compiles other people’s research and theories and only occasionally proposes his own theory.

The chapters are short snippets that make for convenient reading. Maybe ten minutes a topic. And each chapter ends with a bibliography. I like that. I can go read his sources on a subject that interests me and learn more.

℘℘℘ – Solid 3 pages. Interesting read. Interesting design. Limited target audience. If you aren’t a history geek, this would bore you quickly. If you are a history geek, you know 90% of the material already. So it’s the in between, those with an interest and a high school level history knowledge who would most gravitate to this book.

Now don’t they feel dumb…

This morning as I was doing home school with my kiddo we were reading this book ajuniorggbout Geography. I love this book and if I can get it on other subjects I will. (the tone is funny while still talking to kids like they have brains.) But I digress, I came across a section on big Hollywood movies that make major mistakes pertaining to Geography.

-Jurassic Park, when Nedry is meeting on the beach to discuss stealing the dino embryos, the local is listed as San Jose, Costa Rica. Except San Jose is 50 miles from the beach. Oops

-Armageddon, when they are celebrating the destruction of the meteorite all over the world, it is magically day in every local.

-Titanic, Jack tells Rose he used to fish in Lake Wissota in Wisconsin. Throw away line to give him some back story, right? Oops, Lake Wissata was created by a dam that was built in 1915, three years after the Titanic sunk. Too bad he didn’t use his time machine to go back and tell himself not to get on the Titanic, eh?

-Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indy’s plane flies Southwest out of Shanghai passing over the Great Wall of China, which is actually hundreds of miles North of Shanghai. Cool airplane trick. I want one.

-The Sound of Music, the Von Trapp family climbs over the Alps from Salzberg and across the border into Switzerland. Yeah, they are safe. But wait, if you cross the Alps from Salzberg the border you cross is actually into Nazi Germany. Oops, not safe.

This right here is why I research. Because someone always cares. These are quick mistakes that could have been avoided with a 30 second google search. I always take the 30 seconds, even when that means 3 years to write one stinkin’ spy novel. It will be correct when I finally finish it.

And I used these example because I liked these movies. I still do.

Quick reminder; if you are in the area, tonight at 7PM at Boxleys in North Bend is the Bard and Starlett hour. bard-starlet-radio-hour-flyer-final

“Anyone caught discussing books would be executed in the marketplace”

No, this isn’t from some dystopian novel I’ve started writing. laughing. File that under things that will never happen. It’s from the establishment of the Chinese nation, quite some time ago. My son and I have been listening to Story of the World, Ancient History while driving around lately. It’s good for him, he is happier to do the History lesson when we get to it in my lesson plan if he’s heard the CD chapter a few times already.

It’s good for me too because I hear little things that I hadn’t before. I know I have a degree in history but my focus was on Wars of the Twentieth century. I did take some ancient, Africa and Rome. But all my other classes focused 1740 forward.

So this morning when the CD was explaining how China was united by a ruler named Chin (hence China) who overcame multiple other warlords and maintained his dynasty by severe rule, I heard this bit about book burning and discussing books being punishable by death. And it occurs to me there are so many ways I could have died if I had lived in another time.

I went through a whole phase where if you told me not to do something, I did it, just to see what would happen. Luckily I live in the United States and it was the nineties, so I got told things like don’t get that tattoo (I have three), don’t get that piercing (I’ve had 6), if you don’t go to college you’ll never get a job (ha and double ha), you’ll never make it as a writer (still proving that one wrong), etc etc etc

Even right now I have blue and purple hair. House wives shouldn’t have multi colored hair. Shrug. Kiss it.

Ok, maybe it wasn’t a phase as such but a way of life.

So you can imagine if I was told “Do not discuss books in public.”

There I am on my quickly nailed together box (no soap boxes back then), speaking persuasively in favor of books: of what you can learn, how they can change your life, that a populace that can read will never be truly oppressed…right up until they cut my head off with an ax.

So there my head is, staring up at you from the ground, asking what are you doing that everyone or even just one someone told you, you can’t, you shouldn’t, you won’t…..