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History! Truth or Fiction? Part One

Cover of "The Devil in the White City:  M...

At one time history was not my favorite subject.  You had to remember all those names and dates; but still it seemed that the writers of the history books had it all together.  I wondered why people didn’t realize that that was what was happening at the time it was going on.  Hindsight was always seemed to be better than foresight.    I almost always took these people’s opinions as the truth back then.  I didn’t know then what I know now.  History books are not always objective nor are they always based on unbiased sources.  They are written by experts so they should know what they are talking about, right?  Maybe not….

In college, I first heard about using (as much as possible) original source material to find out what was actually happening at that time in history and/or what people thought about it then.  It could be reports of speeches actually given at the time the historical event was happening or actual written or printed materials from that time.  I became interested in reading novels set in various periods of history especially those that seemed to give an inside view of what it was like to live at that time.  I recently read, The Devil in the White City, which was an account of things that happened at the time of the Colombian Exposition in Chicago at the end of the 19th century based on factual sources of information from this time.  I was impressed at the caliber of the work involved and the breathe of the sources and felt that after I read the book that I had a good idea of what really happened at that time in history.  I did not feel that the author had a particular ax to grind and/or was focusing only on material that would get his point of view across and ignoring other material.  Think for yourself.  Examine different points of view.




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