Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Popular vs. academic

Jill Lepore who writes academic histories writes a mildly positive review for Hampton Sides new book on the Navajo, Blood and Thunder (which I am so buying.) She hits him with this: "His story gallops; more ideas, harder questions, would rein it in to a slow trot" Well it is popular history, isn't it? But she does raise a good point. On one hand, there may be an element of envy. The popular historians vastly outsell the academic ones. On the other hand, it is disturbing that most people read no history after college or high school, and if they do, they read simplified accounts. Some knowledge is better than none, yes?

Why does this matter? I suppose it matters most when people use their limited understanding to make decisions like, say, supporting the invasion of Iraq.

No comments: