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Blogging On History, Science, and Education

What I Left Out

A letter from a reader about the updated 4th edition of "All the People" says: “I was very disappointed to see that the Mississippi Gulf Coast got barely a sentence in the discussion of Hurricane Katrina. Like the rest of the nation, you have overlooked the destruction that our state suffered and focused only on what New Orleans suffered.”
Ah me, she is right, of course. She has hit upon one of the problems of writing history, especially a grand sweep history. You can’t tell it all, so you have to make choices. I’m bothered all the time by what I didn’t include. So I often tell teachers and students to help me out and write their own volumes of A History of US. You and your students can tackle the history of your town or city or hamlet. Interviewing parents and grandparents and neighbors will provide insights into family history. And then there are all those other things that, even in 10 books, I had to eliminate. Take the Civil War. I attempt to cover it all in one small volume. Except that I don’t really. There are whole libraries on just the Civil War. You’ll be amazed at what I left out. So follow your reading with research and writing, maybe you can publish too.
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