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Customer Review

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid book for anyone with even a slight interest in history, April 21, 2013
This review is from: Here Is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History (Hardcover)
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This is a very interesting book. It's a history book, sure - but what it really does is make you realize that what we call "history" is a man-made thing. It's also interesting because of the way it's written: it's informal, almost casual, and the author is a key component of the story (not something you get in your typical history book).

Really, it's an adventure book as much as a history book, because it's written from the perspective of the adventures the author had while completing his research. We follow him around the country and along the way he explains where we are and why it's significant.

I was struck by the fact that many of the people and events in the book are not more well-known, given the power of their stories and how integral they are to today's society. For example:

The African-American woman who refused to give up her seat for a white passenger, was arrested, and whose case was critical in the development of the civil rights movement. Rosa Parks, right? Nope. Irene Morgan, eleven years earlier. No one I spoke to had ever heard her name.

Or how about the doctor who developed vaccines for the flu, the measles, the mumps, chicken pox, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B? You'd think we would've heard about him, especially since most of those vaccines are still given to children today...but no one I spoke to had ever heard the name Maurice Hilleman.

The author does a good job highlighting a vast number of these forgotten stories, reminding us that what we know as "history" is just a small cross-section of what has actually happened in the past. I was repeatedly reminded of the phrase "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

After finishing the book, I've found myself quoting random facts to my co-workers ("hey, did you know the Spanish flu wasn't from Spain?"), and invariably when I tell them about this book, they say "oh, that sounds like a neat book." Yes it is - I recommend it! (I'm giving it four stars instead of five because sometimes the story drags, and sometimes the writing style is a little too casual. But neither problem should stop you from checking it out).
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 9, 2014 3:42:05 AM PST
Some black woman refusing to give up her seat isn't in itself of historical note. I'm sure thousands of them showed defiance throughout pre-bus boycott America. Why we remember Rosa Parks is because she was used as a propaganda figure, and what followed her refusal was much more important than whatever followed Irene Morgan's. We ought to go the other way and forget Parks' name, not add Morgan's to the list of people the general public has a vague sense they're supposed to remember for some reason.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 9, 2014 5:12:25 PM PST
Eric DiPier says:
I guess I'd argue Irene Morgan was much more than "some black woman". Here's Wikipedia's take on "whatever followed her refusal":

"Her case, Irene Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia, 328 U.S. 373 (1946), was argued by William H. Hastie, the former governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands and later a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Thurgood Marshall was co-counsel and later became a Supreme Court justice.

The action resulted in a landmark ruling in 1946, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that Virginia's state law enforcing segregation on interstate buses was illegal. Hastie and Marshall used an innovative strategy to brief and argue the case. Instead of relying upon the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment, they argued successfully that segregation on interstate travel violated the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution."
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