Friday, February 07, 2003

Ordinary history

When you're from a small town you get used to low levels of stimulation. That's a good thing, even if it does make you write posts about plumbing and dust.

A lot of history isn't exactly exciting either, but interesting nonetheless. After all, most of our ancestors weren't kings, knights, or even soldiers.

Fernand Braudel has written much of ordinary life in Europe and elsewhere in his excellent books. Two examples are Structure of Everyday Life: The Limits of the Possible and The Wheels of Commerce: Civilization and Capitalism. They fill in a lot of gaps between the wars that my history classes never addressed - Amazon has some blurbs with more.

For a view of the uglier side of the past in the US, there's "The Good Old Days: They were Terrible!" by Otto Bettmann. And people say cars pollute - read about the problems of dealing with so many horses in a big city. Or learn what kinds of things inspired the Pure Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act - yechh!

Enough for now - I'd better get to work, or I'll be history.

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