Histories

In another life, I might have been a historian.  I have a passion for history that ebbs and flows, but never goes away.  (As a youngster, I had a similar passion for astronomy, which has also ebbed and flowed and never gone away.) It is difficult to describe why I am attracted to history.  In part I think it is because it helps me understand who we are and how we got here.  Regardless, the passion exists and every once in a while, it flares up and must be fed. I’d guess that I have taught myself far more history than I ever learned in my schooling, and I’d venture to guess that my knowledge of history, generally, is equal to that of someone with a graduate degree in the subject.

There are 3 sets of history volumes that have always intrigued me.  The first is Will and Ariel Durant’s 11-volume, Story of Civilization series.  I’ve read the first 2 books in the series and own all of the others.  I have promised myself I will make it through the entire series some day.  The second is Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which I also own, and which I have read bits and pieces of from time to time.

The third and final set is from the turn of the twentieth century, a collection of historical writings called The Historians History of the World. I first read about this miscellaneous collection of historical writing years ago in Isaac Asimov’s autobiography.  Every once in-a-while, I’d do some searches for the books but always come up empty-handed.  This weekend, however, I tried a search and found the books, and to my surprise, discovered they are freely available as part of the Google Book Project. My reading is such right now that I don’t have time for any of these books.  (In fact, I suspect I won’t really have time for them until well, into the future.)  But it is nice to know that they are available for me when my inner historian comes calling.

Published by Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.