Everyone once in a while, someone sends you an interesting link that just happens to answer a question you’ve long been asking. You see, I’ve always loved history, but I can’t for the life of me contextualize it. I was once humiliated in a college class for accidentally suggesting that Biblical times predate ancient Greece because, well, I might have sort of thought they did up until that time. I mean, I knew they were both old, don’t get me wrong. And the second it was out of my mouth I knew for a million reasons that it made no sense. I just have no innate sense of the timeline of history and how each piece fits together. (Incidentally, I also have this problem with neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Fort Greene is where in regards to Park Slope??)
So when Rachel sent me this link to a post on The Awl about books that teach you about the world, I was totally thrilled to find this:
“Before I read this book—I later came to realize—I had no consistent mental timeline for human history. Because everything I had learned in school I had learned in discrete sections: US history was separate from European history which was separate from “World” history, and I had no real idea of how the events I learned about in each of these classes interrelated with one another. But in this history, the Basques, who have maintained a stable society in the same place of the world, Euskadi, since before the Roman Empire, become the continuous line through which to view and analyze the events of Western history, as Kurlansky does a phenomenal job plotting the parallels between changes in Basque culture with what was going on elsewhere in the world.”
The answer to the question I’ve always been asking myself is apparently, “Read The Basque History of the World by Mark Kurlansky.” Handy! The only things I really know about Basque country relate to soccer and the perplexing anomaly that is their language, so I’d actually be kind of excited to find out more. Conveniently, I’ve also long been asking myself “Which Mark Kurlansky book should I read first?”
Two questions: one answer. Just the way I like it.
So what book have you always needed? Maybe someone else can chime in with your perfect answer.