Author Topic: What's your favourite historical period and why?  (Read 2612 times)

shelivesthedream

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What's your favourite historical period and why?
« on: August 27, 2017, 03:40:47 AM »
One of my main hobbies is reading about social and domestic history. I love all the little details like how people shopped, what they ate, what they wore... particularly for people who were pretty average - upper working class artisans, lower middle class clerks, that kind of demographic.

"My" historical period is late-Victorian to just after the Second World War. I'm fascinated by it because it feels so close but yet so far - we had railways, world trade, mass communication, the beginnings of standardised mass production... but it was still a totally different world with no computing, no refrigerators, a big divide between expectations for men and women, very different expectations for social mobility. It seems to me that if someone time-travelled from now to inter-war Britain, a lot of it would look very familiar but they would find daily life very different.

So what historical period do you find most interesting and why?

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2017, 05:53:02 AM »
I enjoy reading and learning about the early days of computers and electronics. That spans a few decades depending on how you interpret things. There are so many stories of how some really sharp people discovered and built some crazy cool items. Then there stories of things that were commercialized. Somtimes that was done by the same person, other times some other clever person saw the possibility.

One of my hobbies is electronics and computers, and I prefer to try and do things sort of old school. Not using vacuum tubes or writing cobol code, but still tending to older tactics.

rab

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2017, 06:19:09 AM »
I've always been interested in the Great Depression, probably because my parents were born during the heart of it (1933 and 1934).  I enjoy reading about how different people got through it. It seems to me that Mustachians are particularly well adapted to conditions like that, and it's probably at least partially what drew me to this site. There were probably a lot of "Mustachians" back in the '30s!
« Last Edit: August 27, 2017, 06:25:08 AM by rab »

GuitarStv

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2017, 07:41:38 AM »
The WWII era is fascinating to read about from a technology standpoint . . . It seems like anybody with a half baked idea was able to get funding to try it out in reality, which led to some truly great advances (and truly hilariously terrible failures).

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2017, 07:52:32 AM »
Any time WWII and before, I just can't decide.  We've been re-enacting since 2015 (hello renaissance faire!) and started with Elizabethan/Tudor.  We next got involved with Victorian, and then I started Pioneer.. It certainly makes me super aware of how far women have come.  I'm noticing that when we're looking for new periods to learn about, I just *cannot* get excited about anything recent.  At least I'm doing something with my history degree! :D

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2017, 08:04:14 AM »
The present.  Things have never been better.  Global poverty has never been lower.  Lifespans are increasing and infant mortality is continuing to fall.  It is possible for "large" numbers of 1st worlders to live a life of leisure and even early retirement.  The stars are now beckoning.  Technology is radically transforming everything.  We live in a truly wonderous time. 
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human

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2017, 08:06:11 AM »
Today is pretty good. Civil rights exist, although systemic racism still lurks. Medical advancements mean we are living longer. If you just mean to read about I prefer the future, endless possibilities on the horizon.

spartana

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2017, 08:09:25 AM »
Pre-Roman (Iron Age) British and Irish culture. Movement of Celtic, Gaulish etc...people across Europe due to Roman expansion. I just find that period of time historically and culturally interesting.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2017, 08:14:28 AM by spartana »
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shelivesthedream

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2017, 08:18:00 AM »
Interesting responses so far! Just wanted to clarify: I don't mean favourite like best. Heaven knows we've rehashed that enough times already. I mean favourite like one you are most interested in reading about and finding out about.

I'm getting quite into American Pioneer history, but am finding it hard to find good books about it. Local libraries tend to major on British history so I'd have to request something specific. What I'm really looking for is something detailed but accessible and storyish about the minutiae of daily life. Not "and the the government passed this low in 18-whatever" but "families on the trail would shoot their own dinner and then cook it over the campfire". Any recommendations?

Pre-Roman (Iron Age) British and Irish culture. Movement of Celtic, Gaulish etc...people across Europe due to Roman expansion. I just find that period of time historically and culturally interesting.

Niche! How come? Is it not quite hard to know anything with confidence about it?

Koogie

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2017, 08:45:40 AM »
I would also say late Victorian through Edwardian, WWI and through the Roaring Twenties.  Say about a 50 year period.

I'm just amazed still by their inventiveness, by their confidence and their discoveries.  How the Victorian period in particular still influences our daily lives, our holidays and even our speech.
 
As a child I was given the omnibuses of the Sherlock Holmes stories and that was probably what sparked it.  I went on to read Kipling and in my teens Conrad became one of my favorite authors.  I also became a massive history aficionado as a result.

I also still remember as a kid in school every year on Remembrance Day meeting the WWI veterans.  They seemed really old, gallant and tough as nails.  The WWII guys were still relatively young then (late 50s - early 60s) and they were themselves in awe of the WWI guys.  We had a lot of lessons about trenchwarfare and a lot of lectures by the veterans. 

Anyone interested in WWI should go on Youtube and follow "The Great War" channel.  They have been making videos celebrating the centennial of WWI and post every week about the events that occurred on those days exactly 100 years ago. Great stuff.
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MrsWolfeRN

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2017, 09:17:43 AM »
Interesting responses so far! Just wanted to clarify: I don't mean favourite like best. Heaven knows we've rehashed that enough times already. I mean favourite like one you are most interested in reading about and finding out about.

I'm getting quite into American Pioneer history, but am finding it hard to find good books about it. Local libraries tend to major on British history so I'd have to request something specific. What I'm really looking for is something detailed but accessible and storyish about the minutiae of daily life. Not "and the the government passed this low in 18-whatever" but "families on the trail would shoot their own dinner and then cook it over the campfire". Any recommendations?

Pre-Roman (Iron Age) British and Irish culture. Movement of Celtic, Gaulish etc...people across Europe due to Roman expansion. I just find that period of time historically and culturally interesting.

Niche! How come? Is it not quite hard to know anything with confidence about it?

Following, I also like reading about daily life in other countries, time periods, etc.  Are you looking for fiction or nonfiction? I really like it when fiction authors work in a lot of facts as part of the story.

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2017, 09:32:32 AM »
The roaring twenties for sure. I loved the fashion of the era, everything was new, it was the first decade where the regular folks were able to afford a car, borrow on credit, the stock market was crazy...everything of that era was grandiose. Of course, they would later pay for all that extravagance in the 1930's when everything crashed. Nonetheless, I love reading about that era. I wouldn't want to live in that era though, people died young and with many diseases that can now be cured today. Another era I like to read about is WW2 era. It was fascinating how everyone pitched in, you couldn't just buy steak if you wanted to for example because of how short the food supplies were. 

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2017, 10:33:12 AM »
Interesting responses so far! Just wanted to clarify: I don't mean favourite like best. Heaven knows we've rehashed that enough times already. I mean favourite like one you are most interested in reading about and finding out about.

I'm getting quite into American Pioneer history, but am finding it hard to find good books about it. Local libraries tend to major on British history so I'd have to request something specific. What I'm really looking for is something detailed but accessible and storyish about the minutiae of daily life. Not "and the the government passed this low in 18-whatever" but "families on the trail would shoot their own dinner and then cook it over the campfire". Any recommendations
?

Pre-Roman (Iron Age) British and Irish culture. Movement of Celtic, Gaulish etc...people across Europe due to Roman expansion. I just find that period of time historically and culturally interesting.

Niche! How come? Is it not quite hard to know anything with confidence about it?

Have you read any of the "Little House" books by Laura Ingalls Wilder?  They are classic children's books in the US.  She was writing about her childhood, post Civil War; I believe she was born 1867.  I read them all as a child, and remembered preferring the earliest books better than the later ones.  Rereading them with my children, I realized the themes grew darker as the girls grew older.  I much preferred the books to the tv series Little House on the Prairie based on the characters - it went way off script eventually.

There are also collections of "Dear America" books covering many different time periods, in a first person POV diary format.  Again, juvenile books, but multiple authors.

shelivesthedream

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2017, 12:00:14 PM »
Interesting responses so far! Just wanted to clarify: I don't mean favourite like best. Heaven knows we've rehashed that enough times already. I mean favourite like one you are most interested in reading about and finding out about.

I'm getting quite into American Pioneer history, but am finding it hard to find good books about it. Local libraries tend to major on British history so I'd have to request something specific. What I'm really looking for is something detailed but accessible and storyish about the minutiae of daily life. Not "and the the government passed this low in 18-whatever" but "families on the trail would shoot their own dinner and then cook it over the campfire". Any recommendations
?

Pre-Roman (Iron Age) British and Irish culture. Movement of Celtic, Gaulish etc...people across Europe due to Roman expansion. I just find that period of time historically and culturally interesting.

Niche! How come? Is it not quite hard to know anything with confidence about it?

Have you read any of the "Little House" books by Laura Ingalls Wilder?  They are classic children's books in the US.  She was writing about her childhood, post Civil War; I believe she was born 1867.  I read them all as a child, and remembered preferring the earliest books better than the later ones.  Rereading them with my children, I realized the themes grew darker as the girls grew older.  I much preferred the books to the tv series Little House on the Prairie based on the characters - it went way off script eventually.

There are also collections of "Dear America" books covering many different time periods, in a first person POV diary format.  Again, juvenile books, but multiple authors.

I loved Little House on the Prairie as a child, but for some reason didn't realise it was a series so only read the others about two years ago! I've also watched three series of the TV show. It's a very different beast but sometimes I want an easy DVD to iron to and I can buy a whole series on eBay for 3.

So that and a great TV series by Ray Mears about how the geography of America shaped its colonisation made me interested in that period. It feels like a huge period of discovery and exploration but by extremely ordinary people. Not Sir Walter Raleigh chartering a ship full of hardened sailors but your average person trekking out into the wilderness to find land and build a home.

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2017, 01:16:43 PM »
I love, love, love reading about the every day lives of people. I honestly don't know if I can choose a favorite historical period although I've always been a little partial to medieval history. I guess mostly because it seems like such a trying era, people went through so many hardships I almost can't believe they survived. It serves as an excellent reminder of (speaking as a woman) how good I have it today. One resource I've found that's great for delving into the daily lives of people is old cookbooks, especially if they were written during a historical event like war. The old Joy of Cooking captures a bit of what life was like when people had to deal a lot of uncertainty.

Here's a list of some of the books I've found interesting:

The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium
by Robert Lacey

Life in a Medieval Castle
by Joseph Gies, Frances Gies

The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century
by Ian Mortimer

Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth-Century to Modern Times
by Lucy Lethbridge

At Home: A Short History of Private Life
by Bill Bryson

Cookbooks:

Mrs. Beeton's Cookery Book (1861) - The history around Isabella Beeton and how she came to write this series is fascinating. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mrs_Beeton%27s_Book_of_Household_Management

The Joy of Cooking 3rd Edition (1943)
By Irma Rombauer

American Heritage Cookbook and (2 Vols) Illustrated History of American Eating and Drinking
by American Heritage Dictionary (1964)
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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2017, 04:25:16 PM »
I myself love colonial America and the revolutionary war period.  I think part of the appeal is living in Philadelphia near where a lot of the action happened. I can visit the sites and try to imagine the place as it was 250 to 300 years ago. And certainly philly was one of the great places in America.

While I love many of the primary works of that time (particularly from our founders) I especially love the writings of Ben Franklin.  I have read his autobiography many times and every biography I could get my hands on.  I'm still working through some of his other writings and find it absolutely fascinating.  I find him to be illuminating and which a great sense of humor.

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2017, 05:16:58 PM »
I love the medieval period in Europe, we do reenactments and I met my DH at one.  I think one of the things that I love so much about that time period is that I can actually learn to do the things that people did and understand the technology inside and out.  Glass blowing and forging, I could watch them all day.  I carved my own wooden spoon, make clothes, draft patterns, shoot archery, etc.

On a different time period and continent, one book series that I read starts with the book "Mud and Gold, Promises to Keep".  It's based in colonial New Zealand and is the story of one woman from age 13 to about 40, what went wrong, etc.  A lot of details of every day life are included and it's just a wonderfully written historical fiction series.  I cry a lot when reading these books, fair warning.

simonsez

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2017, 11:54:51 AM »
a few of mine:

Europe as a whole from c.400 to c.800 - end of the Roman era + German barbarians up through establishment of the Holy Roman Empire (Aachen, Germany is a great place to visit!)

1314-1326 everything to do with the Tour de Nesle affair up through the execution of Hugh Despenser the Younger

Africa during the 20th century - change from imperialist to independent countries

1789-1815 French Revolution + Louisiana Purchase + Napoleon @ Waterloo - how this shaped the western world

1905-1922 Russian Empire to USSR transition

Honorable mention: not really any single period but a wiki tangent following the progression of the popes is really something

start_at_the_beginning

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2017, 12:31:39 PM »
Not a period per se, but I've discovered a great podcast that gets really into depth (really REALLY into depth) to a variety of topics- It's called Hardcore history. There is a bit of an emphasis on military stuff from what I've heard so far but I'm very much enjoying it even though that usually isn't my thing.

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2017, 05:31:10 PM »
I really like Bernard Cornwell's Saxon chronicles set in 9th and 10th century Britain, before England became a country.  Really good historical fiction. 

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2017, 07:01:49 PM »
Mid-1800s, as more Americans were going west.  I've often thought I would be a very strong pioneer-woman, but then I see films and the characters open their mouth to rotten teeth and I get pretty squeamish! 
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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2017, 09:54:14 PM »
I think the 1790-1850 period of US history is fascinating even though it tends to get skimped on in history classes. A lot of major changes (cultural, economic, technological) that shaped the United States have their roots in this period, and of course the political conflicts that culminated in the Civil War.

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2017, 03:43:26 AM »
Pre-Roman (Iron Age) British and Irish culture. Movement of Celtic, Gaulish etc...people across Europe due to Roman expansion. I just find that period of time historically and culturally interesting.

This period of history is really interesting, but so many unanswered questions and even with DNA analysis, we probably will never get full answers. Same for the early post-Roman period in Western Europe. For example, here in Britain, how did we end up with such a clear geographic split between speakers of English and speakers of Celtic languages with hardly any borrowing of vocabulary between them and yet all the archaeology and genetics seems to show virtually no change in the population, and hardly any signs of battles?

I love that within a few miles of my house, I can visit a huge iron age hill fort, bronze age barrows, roman roads and villas, an early Anglo-saxon defensive dyke and a set of Roman era burial mounds which are over 40ft high (but not built by the Romans, who didn't go in for such things), plus a long distance path first used by neolithic flint miners, and this is a relatively insignificant location. For the most part, we don't know exactly who built any of those things, or why.

My favourite period is 17th century England. We had a civil war, a plague which killed 80% of people in some locations, the great fire of London, the restoration of the monarchy after a couple of decades as a republic, a mini ice-age, the first successful English colonies in North America and the emergence of England as a world power, Newton, Robert Hooke and co. kickstarting the scientific and industrial revolutions, and all kinds of interesting religious and political movements.

spartana

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #23 on: August 30, 2017, 11:07:42 AM »
Interesting responses so far! Just wanted to clarify: I don't mean favourite like best. Heaven knows we've rehashed that enough times already. I mean favourite like one you are most interested in reading about and finding out about.

I'm getting quite into American Pioneer history, but am finding it hard to find good books about it. Local libraries tend to major on British history so I'd have to request something specific. What I'm really looking for is something detailed but accessible and storyish about the minutiae of daily life. Not "and the the government passed this low in 18-whatever" but "families on the trail would shoot their own dinner and then cook it over the campfire". Any recommendations?

Pre-Roman (Iron Age) British and Irish culture. Movement of Celtic, Gaulish etc...people across Europe due to Roman expansion. I just find that period of time historically and culturally interesting.

Niche! How come? Is it not quite hard to know anything with confidence about it?
I don't know but I remember reading a fiction novel as a teen about the Roman invasion of Britain and that seemed to set me on a look backward thru the centuries. Can't remember the book but think it was The Eagle and The Raven by Pauline somebody. I have a huge facination with most ancient history (Ur, Mesopotemia, Egypt etc...) too. Modern history not so much.

Also fascinated by Irish history that stayed (mostly/somewhat) uninfluenced by Rome. Scotland too but less so. Probably explains the language differences the poster above mentioned
« Last Edit: August 30, 2017, 11:23:05 AM by spartana »
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pachnik

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #24 on: August 30, 2017, 11:14:07 AM »
I am fascinated with English history and have been since a teenager. 

I really enjoy reading Victorian novels.  Right now I am on a huge George Eliot kick - reread Middlemarch recently, currently rereading The Mill on the Floss.  Next up is Adam Bede. 

YogiKitti

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #25 on: September 07, 2017, 10:16:36 AM »
Oh I love learning about everyday people in history! My favorite time periods are the 1940s and early Victorian era. I like the 40s because it was my grandparents generation, but seems so incredibly different and far removed. Recovering from the war, yet still having inspiration for new ideas and creations. I also really love the fashion of that period and how people dressed up nicer for everyday things and ever more so for special occasions. We don't do "Sunday best" outfits anymore.

I also love the early Victorian era for the beauty in everything that was built. The homes, the furniture, the machinery, all are so beautiful looking and you can see the care that went into making it. I have a lamp from 1880s and I blows my mind that this functional piece of art was sitting in someone's living room when corsets and petticoats where the norm.

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #26 on: September 13, 2017, 12:16:50 AM »
The present.  Things have never been better.  Global poverty has never been lower.  Lifespans are increasing and infant mortality is continuing to fall.  It is possible for "large" numbers of 1st worlders to live a life of leisure and even early retirement.  The stars are now beckoning.  Technology is radically transforming everything.  We live in a truly wonderous time.

Hear, hear!

Interesting responses so far! Just wanted to clarify: I don't mean favourite like best. Heaven knows we've rehashed that enough times already. I mean favourite like one you are most interested in reading about and finding out about.

Still the present. There's so much going on today, trying to read and keep up with things (and I'm not talking about mainstream "news"--I keep a low information diet) is time-consuming, much more relevant, and more interesting to me personally.
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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #27 on: September 13, 2017, 07:52:11 AM »
The present.  Things have never been better.  Global poverty has never been lower.  Lifespans are increasing and infant mortality is continuing to fall.  It is possible for "large" numbers of 1st worlders to live a life of leisure and even early retirement.  The stars are now beckoning.  Technology is radically transforming everything.  We live in a truly wonderous time.

Hear, hear!

Interesting responses so far! Just wanted to clarify: I don't mean favourite like best. Heaven knows we've rehashed that enough times already. I mean favourite like one you are most interested in reading about and finding out about.

Still the present. There's so much going on today, trying to read and keep up with things (and I'm not talking about mainstream "news"--I keep a low information diet) is time-consuming, much more relevant, and more interesting to me personally.

While I appreciate the argument that today is the best of all times . . .

Historical:
- of or concerning history; concerning past events
- belonging to the past, not the present
- (especially of a novel or movie) set in the past

It's a poor answer for the question posed.  :P

arebelspy

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #28 on: September 13, 2017, 10:25:07 AM »
It's a poor answer for the question posed.  :P

Fair enough.

I think one could make an argument that today is a "historical period," but even that aside, my point was to say that with the limited amount of time we have, if you're learning about the world I like to learn about it as it is, rather than as it was. An alternate viewpoint to the question (questioning the question, as it were), basically.
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simonsez

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #29 on: September 13, 2017, 10:28:28 AM »
It's a poor answer for the question posed.  :P

Fair enough.

I think one could make an argument that today is a "historical period," but even that aside, my point was to say that with the limited amount of time we have, if you're learning about the world I like to learn about it as it is, rather than as it was. An alternate viewpoint to the question (questioning the question, as it were), basically.

Probably could've got away with it more if you had referred to it as "the latest years on record for the Anthropocene"

;-)

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #30 on: September 16, 2017, 08:34:26 AM »
If we want to look at today, it helps to see how we got where we are - which gets us back into history.

Older novels give insights that modern novels about historical periods don't - I read Glengarry School Days (written 1902 about Glengarry around 1867) and it was interesting to see that time and place from an intermediate time and place's viewpoint.
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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #31 on: September 16, 2017, 11:02:24 AM »
If we want to look at today, it helps to see how we got where we are - which gets us back into history.

Older novels give insights that modern novels about historical periods don't - I read Glengarry School Days (written 1902 about Glengarry around 1867) and it was interesting to see that time and place from an intermediate time and place's viewpoint.

I find history book written by now-historical people incredibly trippy. It's like an extra dimension created by the double-working timeline.

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #32 on: September 18, 2017, 11:07:46 AM »
Quote
I think one could make an argument that today is a "historical period," but even that aside, my point was to say that with the limited amount of time we have, if you're learning about the world I like to learn about it as it is, rather than as it was

The obvious rebuttal is that a broad knowledge of history is necessary to parse and contextualize current events. Indeed, you can only say that the present is "best" because you know (largely from second hand sources) how things used to be.


Personally and in no particular order:
WWI and its aftermath
Pre-Civil War North America
Western antiquity - Greeks, Romans, Persians
Mid-Eastern Medieval- roughly 700-1200 CE
North European Medieval
"Near modern" European - roughly 1700-1900


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Gondolin

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #33 on: September 18, 2017, 11:19:39 AM »
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I find history book written by now-historical people incredibly trippy.

It gets even more fun when you read multiple books on the same topic by different authors and then parsing all the biases that each writer brought to the material!
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FallenTimber

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Re: What's your favourite historical period and why?
« Reply #34 on: September 19, 2017, 09:24:38 AM »
I love the history and the adventure of the exploration and settling of the American west, particularly between 18001880.

I am fascinated by the Lewis and Clarke expedition, the Native American tribes and the triumphs and tragedies they faced, the mountain man era between 1810-1880 (our son is named Colter), the Oregon Trail and the courageous souls who made (or attempted to make) the journey, the John Wesley Powell expedition down the Grand Canyon in 1869, and of course the peak of the cowboy era between 1866 and 1886.

It was a time when a man (or woman) could venture west into the unknown and not know what was around the next bend. It was an incredibly difficult (and often short) life, but it was filled with adventure and the ultimate freedom. Your survival depended on your instincts and your ability to hunt, fish, and defend yourself and your family from the countless threats. It's an era that has most definitely been over-romanticized, and I am grateful to live in an era where life is so easy, but there's certainly some magic in the idea of looking at a map and seeing a blank region. Especially in an age when you can use Google Street View to virtually drive every mile between New York and California.