In The Joy of Living Today, I wrote that one reason to learn history is to make you realize how good your life is so that you can be grateful for it. But there are other reasons to learn history. Learning history helps you see current and future events from a rich perspective. It helps you avoid the mistakes people made in the past. It also helps you make the right decisions in life. In short, learning history makes you wise.
But what resources should we use to learn history? Here are my favorite resources:
1. Stuff You Missed in History Class Podcast
If you aren’t interested in history, Stuff You Missed in History Class Podcast is a good starting point. It discusses the interesting aspects of many historical events. For example, one episode talks about whether or not Genghis Khan really killed 1,748,000 people in one hour and another episode talks about the cursed tomb of King Tut. The episodes are short (usually under 15 minutes) so they won’t take much time to listen to.
If you want to get a good introduction to a historical topic, Wikipedia is perhaps the best place to go to. It has articles on practically every historical topic imaginable. You may start with History of the world which gives you an overview of the world history. Next, you may learn history based on time periods so that you can easily see the context of each event.
Alternatively, you may browse the history by century. The interesting thing here is it gives you significant events of not only the past, but also the future (in the form of predictions). For example, do you know that Google aims to achieve its objective to organize the world’s information by the year 2300?
3. Visual History of the World
If you are a visual person, National Geographic’s Visual History of the World (or the smaller Essential Visual History of the World) is a book that fits your need. As its title says, it gives you a visual tour through the history of the world. The book starts at around 4000 BC and continues to the present time.
4. Guns, Germs, and Steel
While the resources above are good, they only discuss the surface of history. They tell you about historical events without telling you about the patterns and causes behind them.
For that purpose, the best resource I’ve found is Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond. Rather than just talking about historical facts and events, the book shows you the causes that shape history. Specifically, it discusses why some civilizations are more advanced than others. Guns, Germs and Steel is my favorite history book.
Do you know other resources that you’d like to recommend? Feel free to share them in the comments.
Photo by Tony the Misfit