A Classic . . . and Important . . . work!
Most historians in the U.S., as far as I can tell, tend to believe in the “Great Man” theory of history; the belief that history can be largely explained by the impact of great men, or heroes; highly influential individuals who, due to either their personal charisma, intelligence, wisdom, or political skill used their power in a way that had a decisive historical impact.
Howard Zinn’s classic, A People’s History of the United States, takes the exact opposite view; that history is made by the people, the masses, the average working man and woman who comprise the body politic, and whose lives tell the story of a society’s development. Individuals are seen as products of the society in which they grew and came to prominence, representatives of the people or oppressors of the people, but not apart from the “salt of the Earth”.
If you ever wanted to read this wonderful book, but haven’t gotten around to it, or you’d like to be able to peruse it before taking the plunge (it is a formidable, but entertaining, read) you can find the book in its entirety at History is a Weapon. I believe this particular book is more important than ever, as we become more and more politically active and strive to wrest control over our government, which has been hijacked by vile white nationalists, religionists, and science deniers. I’ve included the link to the book below.
Life Savers for a Bibliophile
A little while ago I wrote about one of the “interesting” challenges I’m facing as I grow older. I was reminded the other day of another challenge; one that’s been around for a while but is taking on a slightly new dimension.
I have been wearing bifocals since I was about 40. Many people need glasses early in life, but almost everyone eventually suffers from Myopia as they age and need reading glasses. At the beginning I really didn’t need much more correction but, since reading was so important to me and an exercise I indulged in quite frequently, I decided to forego them in favor of full size spectacles. I did have a very slight astigmatism, which my lenses corrected for, but I would have been fine without them. This way, however, I didn’t have to wear something around my neck or have to continuously reach for a case to take out – and replace – my glasses in order to read.
As the years went by, I reached a point where my astigmatism was such that I needed the regular lenses as well and by then I was used to wearing glasses all day long; had been for years. I never even considered contact lenses as I didn’t think the extra work was worth it for whatever convenience (and vanity) it might afford. I even had a special pair of glasses made specifically with only my regular prescription, which I used exclusively for practicing and playing golf.
About a year or two ago, while I was driving (a car, not a golf ball) I happened to look at what I thought were a couple of birds flying in an amazingly tight formation. I remarked to my wife about the incredible closeness in which those two birds were flying. She looked at me like I was a bit nuts and pointed out there was only one bird. It wasn’t long before I realized my vision had finally begun to deteriorate a little more.
Unfortunately, by then I no longer had vision insurance and I just wasn’t prepared to spend a lot of money on a new prescription and new glasses. I resolved to deal with it for as long as I could, but I’m getting tired of seeing every star and planet in the night sky with a small companion to its lower left. The Moon is now a somewhat featureless circle too. The other day, while driving to pick up my daughter from gymnastics, I noticed two women jogging closely together as I glanced down a side street I was passing. I knew there was really only one person, as they were both wearing the same exact clothing. I guess it’s about time to fix this before I become dangerous.
Photo via Flickr by Mr. T in DC