I love history. But I will admit to limiting myself almost entirely to ancient history. In high school, I did take both a Canadian history and American history class, but I found both rather boring. Lately, though, I’ve become a little more interested in more recent history. I have come to realize that I know almost nothing about the history of Canada, Britain, or even the U.S. What little I do know are the nice, white-washed stories that the media feeds us.
One of my favourite books, Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne by David Starkey, paints a portrait of the Virgin Queen warts and all. He questions her claims to virginity, her involvement with the attempts to overthrow her sister, her treatment of Catholics, among other scandals. I’m sure some subjects are still slightly sugar-coated, but it was the most candid history book I had ever read, until today.
I’ve just started reading Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen. And, wow, there sure is a lot that I didn’t know about American history. Being the quiet neighbour to the North, Canadians are generally treated to all the same, uhhh… water-down American history that you all get. I think now that I am reading more about the warts and scars that media keeps hidden, I actually have more respect for the U.S.
I hope, once I am finished this book, that I can find a similarly candid book about Canadian history.
Until then, here is an interesting site about Canadian historical (and modern) personalities: The Greatest Canadian. I voted for Agnes MacPhail.