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Star Trek and History (Wiley Pop Culture and History Series) Paperback – March 1, 2013
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From the Back Cover
Are Kirk's "roots" in the American Wild West?
How did Uhura spur real-life gender and racial change in the 1960s?
Are the Klingons medieval, or are they crypto-Soviets?
Can Nazi Germany shed light on the history and culture of the Cardassians?
For a series set in our future, Star Trek constantly revisits the past. Kirk and Spock battle Nazis and Roman gladiators and witness the Great Depression. When they're not doubling back on their own earlier timelines, the crew uses the holodeck to spend time in the American Old West or Victorian England. Alien races have their own complex and fascinating histories, too, in part because Star Trek's writers sometimes used our own histories as the model for alien cultures.
Star Trek and History explores the human history that has inspired many of the show's storylines, characters, and cultures. It's filled with intriguing historical insights and comparisons, such as how the Federation's (and the Borg's) stellar cartography dates back to ancient Rome, Greece, and Babylonia; how the classics of Western literature continue to be an important influence in the lives of Star Trek's characters centuries from now; and how by looking at Norse mythology we can find our very own Q.
It also probes many compelling connections with more recent history, from how the Xindi attack in Star Trek: Enterprise reflected the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States to how the Star Trek universe of the future predicted the development of today's technology, from cell phones and iPads to Facebook.
Featuring an exclusive interview with Nichelle Nichols (the original Lt. Uhura) and a fascinating timeline comparing Star Trek's stardates to our own real world history, Star Trek and History is an essential companion for every Star Trek fan.
About the Author
NANCY R. REAGIN is the Chair of the Department of Women's and Gender Studies at Pace University in New York City, where she is also a professor of history. She has published several books in modern European history, and has firm opinions about how the holodeck and other technologies could be used to teach history at Starfleet Academy. She is also the editor of Twilight and History and Harry Potter and History, and the coeditor of Star Wars and History.
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It is a collection of essays written by different authors who each deal with different social/political issues the show tackled, from racism to the Cold War and Vietnam, environmentalism, the responsibility of not interfering in the development of more primitive cultures etc...
The reviewer who gave this book two stars because he thought it failed to recognize many of the pertinent social issues of the 20th century obviously didn't read the entire book. Pretty much everything he had issue with was addressed in the book.
Its refreshing to see a book come out like this that deals with the primary appeal of Star Trek, which was not phasers, transporters and starships in space, but the interaction of cultures and perceptions about right and wrong ways to deal with nature, divergent societies in conflict, etc. I was pulled into the series as a kid by the dramatic moral stories in episodes like The Man Trap, Devil in the Dark, and Let that Be Your Last Battlefield and coming across a book that explored these themes more in depth was a wonderful find for me.
They do this by ignoring the deep, truly historical roots, of his great contribution in the original Star Trek - classic Trek (TOS). As well as it's deep and serious reflections on history and American politics. These missed original topics include the place of western history in the universe, mapping Cold War and WWII histories onto the future, and the expectation - expectations which failed - that past dangers of eugenics, race, and nuclear wars of the past would continue into the 20th century's then future. Not to mention themes like constitutionalism, popular government versus monarchy and dictatorship, and the primacy of the rule of law to establish justice.
Lacking this, how can the successive Trek series be weighed? They cannot.
This "history" demonstrates the failure of contemporary historians to do lasting, informed history of our times, and chronicle our premier cultural achievements - not even in historical context. How sad and unworthy of Roddenberry's legacy, whose fiction will outlast them all.