Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I have three areas of history that I have studied

The revolutionary period of the late 18th/early 19th century.  The Middle Ages, with particular emphasis on northern Europe in the High Middle Ages.  And WWII.  The last is what got me into history in the first place.  Since I had so many relatives who served in that war, it was natural that I would be fascinated by that period.  I tended to focus on the Pacific more than Europe.  And of all battles, campaigns, and topics, my number one go-to-when-I-have-a-report-to-do subject was Pearl Harbor.  I don't mind saying, there's not much out there about the attack I haven't seen, studied, or read (until recent years, I must admit), and I can give an impromptu talk at a museum to fellow costumers with the  best of them.  That's also why I laugh at all the silly conspiracy theories, by the way.

So it came as a shock to see this article stating that a famous photo of Japanese women manning fire hoses after the attack was, in fact, not true.  It was a real photo, but apparently taken much later - or so the surviving woman in the photo believes.  Now, is that the shock?  No.  What shocked me was that the photo existed.  Again, I've studied, read, bought books, magazines, articles, and documents on the topic.  I've done reports, essays, and projects centered on the topic.  I've seen just about every photo I thought there was to see.  Yet the article says this:
"The photograph has had quite the run through the history books."
I don't know.  Never saw it before now.  Of course I pretty much ignore the [Non]History Channel at this point, so if it's there I wouldn't see it.  I'm just taken that the article assumes "why, this photo was everywhere" when, in truth, after the hundreds of books and articles I've read, and the endless lists of photos I've seen, this was the first.

It says something, that's for sure.  Maybe no matter how much we think we know, there's always something out there we've missed.  Or maybe the press has a tendency to over-inflate things in order to continually promote narratives and memes of its choosing.  Or a combination of both.  Makes me wonder, don't think I don't.


  1. I'm with you, Dave; I have never seen this photo either. I am not a history buff like you, but both of my parents served in WWII, so articles and photos about the War always attract my attention.

    My son and I recently re-read some of my Dad's letters home from the War, and they would probably interest you too. He was part of the D-Day Invasion at Normandy. -Rose

  2. Yeah, anything like that is an interest to me. It's a part of history we would do well to remember.


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