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Here Is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Q&A with Andrew Carroll

Brad Meltzer, author of eleven New York Times bestsellers (including The Inner Circle, published January 2013) and host of the critically acclaimed History Channel series Brad Meltzer’s Decoded, talks to Andrew Carroll about his new book Here Is Where: Discovering America’s Great Forgotten History.

BRAD: To start, the whole premise of your book is about finding places that are historically significant yet somehow overlooked. Love that. So let me ask: If they’re forgotten and unmarked, how did you locate them?

ANDREW: I’m constantly reading a ton of books and newspapers, and I subscribe to about thirty magazines—

BM: Thirty?

AC: Maybe more, and on a wide range of topics—travel, archaeology, current events, science, history, you name it—and I’m always on the lookout for great, little-known stories. When I stumble onto one, I trace it back to a relevant physical spot to see if it’s unmarked. For example, when I read that television was essentially invented by a fourteen-year-old farm boy named Philo Farnsworth in Rigby, Idaho, I immediately began searching for the farm where he had his epiphany. Sure enough, there was no plaque or marker there, and it became one of the locations I wrote about.

BM: You mention in Here Is Where that you hated history growing up. Shame, shame. And what changed your mind?

AC: I know, it’s terrible. But I was very intimidated by history at first. I’m horrible at memorizing things, and I just couldn’t remember all those names and dates in my high school textbooks. Then, during my sophomore year of college, our family’s house burned down, and almost everything we had was destroyed. Losing all our memorabilia inspired my passion for preserving letters, and eventually, a general love for history. Whether it’s the war letters books I edited [War Letters and Behind the Lines], which featured previously unpublished correspondence, or Here Is Where, I try to write for both history buffs who want to learn something new and surprising, and for those who are a bit daunted by the subject, as I once was. It’s been especially gratifying to hear from teachers who’ve used the idea behind Here Is Where to encourage their students to seek out unmarked sites in their communities—and, sometimes, literally in their own backyards.

BM: I know you also went to almost every state in the U.S. Do you consider Here Is Where more of a history book or a travel book?

AC: I think both. It’s definitely about exploring this country as if for the first time, and I wanted to convey the sense of exhilaration and discovery that I experienced. Writing about the journey enabled me to reveal how I found the various sites, and I met so many fascinating people that I wanted to relate some of the more memorable encounters I had along the way. Also, because I spent so much time walking around these different towns and cities, I dropped, like, ten pounds. So I guess we could market Here Is Where as a weight-loss book, too.

BM: Speaking of “memorable encounters,” you had several brushes with law enforcement.

AC: I did, and I’m shocked I wasn’t arrested. But one of my run-ins did lead to a good story. I was speeding through a rural area of Missouri and got pulled over by a state trooper. I had sort of zoned out and wasn’t paying attention to how fast I was going, which is pretty much what I told the officer, and he, understandably, was furious. After giving me a ticket, he sternly instructed me to use my cruise control, and, honest to God, this prompted me to scribble on the ticket: “Cruise control inventor?” I did some research and discovered that, incredibly, the guy who invented cruise control, Ralph Teetor, was totally blind. Thanks to his daughter, I was able to locate their old house in Hagerstown, Indiana, where Teetor created the prototype in the late 1950s.

BM: You write in the book’s introduction that your cross-country trip had to be more than a “grand sightseeing adventure” and that you hoped to explore “why any of this”—meaning, history—“matters.” What are some of the lessons you want readers to take away from the book?

AC: That’s a hard question to answer succinctly. There’s no question that history shows us patterns of human behavior over time and can serve as both a warning, cautioning us to beware of our capacity for violence and destruction, and an inspiration, reminding us our more admirable qualities like courage, resilience, and selflessness. But most of all I wanted to express how a love for history can influence the way we live our lives on a more day-to-day basis. At its best, history shows how interconnected we are and, ideally, can nurture within us a sense of humility and gratitude. It helps us remember the sacrifices made by those who’ve come before us and how much we’ve benefited from them—whether they’re medical pioneers, inventors, veterans, or activists—in ways we often take for granted. There’s a quote I keep in my wallet by the author Lewis Thomas that reads: “Statistically, the probability of any one of us being here is so small that you’d think the mere fact of existing would keep us all in a contented dazzlement of surprise.” Dr. Thomas was a scientist, not a historian, but I think his quote perfectly captures what Here Is Where, ultimately, is all about.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

During the Civil War, at a railroad stop in New Jersey, Abraham Lincoln’s son was saved from a near accident by John Wilkes Boothe’s brother. Historian Carroll had traveled through that spot many times, unaware of its significance; once he learned of it, he wondered how many more such places there were across the U.S. He set out on a journey via car, train, plane, helicopter, boat, and bike to find historically significant places that have long been forgotten. Among his discoveries were a Civil War–era maritime disaster on the Mississippi River that was worse than the sinking of the Titanic but was overshadowed by the assassination of Lincoln two weeks earlier, and the crash-landing of a Japanese plane on the private island of Niihau in December 1941 that led to divided loyalties as Japanese-born residents protected the pilot from Hawaiian natives, even as they learned of the attack on Pearl Harbor. From coast to coast, Carroll presents completely fascinating and rambling history lessons, as well as the quirks that account for what goes into the history books and what is left out and later forgotten. --Vanessa Bush --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (May 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307750701
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307750709
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,292,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Eric DiPier VINE VOICE on April 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I always wince a little bit when people say they "hate history," as the author of this book does up front, but on the other hand can understand. For years uninspiring history teachers have made the study a jumble of rote names, dates, and events. I was lucky and had history teachers that tried a bit harder to bring the past alive, parents and relatives who had lived through historic events (the Depression, the Hurricane of 1938, World War II) and talked about it, and, finally, when I reached eleventh grade, Alistair Cooke's brilliant America program. Cooke didn't just name pertinent dates and people, he talked about the things limited history classes left out: Columbus' charismatic personality, the sufferings the pioneers endured crossing the continent, the appalling conditions among the poor and the burlesque houses of the turn of the 20th century, etc. So a book like this, talking about the forgotten people and events of United States history, is like a Christmas feast, the ordinary combined with the extraordinary.

Carroll's journey begins in a light rail station that was the site of an ironic piece of history: there Abraham Lincoln's eldest son Robert was saved from death by Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes, a fact not even noted at the rail station itself, which gives him the idea to search for unmarked historical sites all over the country. He begins his journey on the privately-owned island of Niihau in the Hawaiian chain, where a forgotten event (well, to everyone but a recent episode of PBS's HISTORY DETECTIVES) eventually led to the internment of Japanese citizens.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I had been looking for a good book on unusual or rarely-discussed moments in U.S. history, and I definitely found it in Andrew Carroll's "Here is Where." Carroll traveled the country, looking for the spots where forgotten moments in history occurred, taking photos and talking with people - sometimes direct descendants - associated with the historic moment.

The book's stories are divided into chapters, covering areas such as crimes and lawsuits, inventions, and medical discoveries. Many of these stories I had never heard before - or if I have heard them before, I certainly don't remember it, so the mention of them must have been brief. The book starts out with a story I've never heard - the landing of a Japanese plane on an isolated island of Hawaii at the very start of WWII. Other stories cover sites we all know, such as the Alamo, but provide additional information - for example, I had no idea that a woman hid out in the Alamo for 3 days to help protect the right to conserve the site (and I've been to the Alamo!).

Even better, Carroll has a wonderful style of writing for this book - he can convey a great deal of information in an interesting manner, without making history seem dry or boring. He also adds in enough personal details to make me feel like I had a sense of him as a person.

Highly, highly recommended for anyone.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Here is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History by Andrew Carroll is an imposing book by it’s size, but is a great read! Carroll uncovers places in the United States which are obscure, yet have important cultural and historical significance. His writing style easily draws the reader into the book and his adventures. He did a great deal of research on the various places he traveled to and helps the reader to see places that even those who lived in those locations were unaware of.

There’s a sense of history and adventure; intrigue and mystery woven into most of the stories. The stories range from inventions to deaths to body snatching and our first venture into World War 2 in an obscure Hawaiian Island I never even heart of. For anyone who enjoys reading about history, especially forgotten USA history, this is a fun book to have sitting on your coffee table.

I would have really enjoyed pictures of the many places he went to which would have helped make the book even more alive. Of course that would have added pages, but it would be worth it.

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this honest review.
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