Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Book Review: Here Is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History by Andrew Carroll

Why did I put off reading this? It was only by a few months, but this book couldn't have been more perfect for me. It's long (450+ pages) and yet I wished it was longer!

Mr. Carroll researches minor historical events (or major ones that have inexplicably been forgotten) and he sets out to visit scores of them, all with the explicit rule that they must not have a historical marker, showing how they have been neglected or overlooked. Some are major (The death of nearly 1800 Union troops on the steamboat Sultana immediately after the end of the Civil War! Hitler and his doctors' eugenics program was inspired by an American--who also helped to save the California redwoods and the bison! One America, Dr. Maurice Hilleman, invented the mumps vaccine, and measles, and the MMR, and more than 40 vaccines including those for chicken pox, and hepatitis A and B!), some are minor (Washington had a slave who ran away! The Spanish flu started in Kansas!), some are just fun trivia (The inventor of cruise control was blind! The man who cast the bronze status on top of the Capitol building during the Civil War was a slave! Al Capone's older brother was a famous Prohibition agent!) several of them circle around and come up again and tie together, showing how all of history is linked and is hard to pull apart.

Not only was this book about awesome trivia, but it was an engaging travel book filled with quirky characters and it made me feel like on my next road trip, I could possibly be finding it much more enlightening and enthralling than anyone else. For example, if I go to the Heights Arts Theater in Cleveland, I could say, "That's where the film The Lovers was shown in 1959 that eventually inspired the Supreme Court to say can't define porn, but they know it when they see it! And until the early 1980s, the Court had a regular adult movie day, screening porn films to decide if they had any educational or artistic merit." Wouldn't it make travelling with me more fun?

Thoroughly entertaining, well-written, meticulously researched, I don't know how Mr. Carroll found so many overlooked and forgotten historic moments but I hope there are more, enough for a sequel!

I got this book in exchange for a review from Read It Forward.

1 comment:

Kay said...

I like the sound of this one. Just that tidbit you shared the other day regarding a Booth and a Lincoln was enough. Sounds like one that would be good to dip into occasionally.