The three of us went out to eat a few nights ago and my daughter was playing a game called Plague, Inc. on Matt’s iPhone. Elle wanted me to help her choose symptoms, just a few things to support the launch of her virtual pestilence that she and my husband so heartwarmingly named Mother. We discussed joint pain, fever, vomiting, jaundice, and even tossed around the idea of a painful rash. When Matt ordered his dinner, I mistakenly thought I heard him say “barbecue” so I immediately, and very excitedly, went off on a tangent explaining the 1868 Yellow Fever outbreak in Memphis and its likely contribution to the city’s deep African-American roots. Think about it: were it not for that pesky epidemic, we might not have ever heard of rock n’ roll, B.B. King, or barbecued pork.
Matt and Elle both called me a nerd and never before had I felt so sure about my future career plans in public history.
C.S. Lewis once said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” This, whatever this is, is not another goal nor is it a new dream. It is simply a more refined goal or, if you prefer to be all woo-woo about these sorts of things, an old dream with much better direction.
Also, Ryan Gosling can Hey, girl me any day of the week.
Some fascinating reads on diseases:
- Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues by Paul Farmer
- The Black Death by Rosemary Horrox
- The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic – and How it Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson
- The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever, the Epidemic that Shaped Our History by Molly Caldwell Crosby
- And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts & William Greider
- Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (fiction, but wow!)
Some good reading material on American history and why public history is important:
- Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King (winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize)
- Triangle: The Fire That Changed America by David von Drehle
- Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
- The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 by Lawrence Wright (winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize)
- The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot & Why the FBI & CIA Failed to Stop It by John Miller, Chris Mitchell, and Michael Stone
- Museums, Monuments, and National Parks: Toward a New Genealogy of Public History by Denise D. Meringolo
- Voices from the Back Stairs: Interpreting Servants’ Lives at Historic House Museums by Jennifer Pustz
This post went off the rails about ten links back, but I love to share a good read with anyone who is interested. I am also thrilled to receive new book recommendations so feel free to fire away.
At times, I feel disconnected from the parts of the country that I really love to learn about – Oklahoma is rich in Native American history, obviously, but I’m more of a Civil Rights and Civil War kind of girl. If you know of any war monuments, landmarks, or related places of interest here in the middle of the country, please share.