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Monday, August 20, 2018
HERE IS WHERE: DISCOVERING AMERICA'S FORGOTTEN HISTORY (audiobook) by Andrew Carroll
Published by Random House Audio in 2013.
Read by the author, Andrew Carroll.
Duration: 14 hours, 2 minutes.
Why are some things remembered in our shared historical memory and others are not? Why do we commemorate some things but others are only remembered by a few hard-core local historians?
Andrew Carroll compiled a list of historical locations that he felt have been overlooked. Inspired by the little known-but-true story of how Abraham Lincoln's son was saved from being pushed off of New Jersey train platform by John Wilkes Booth's brother one year before Lincoln's assassination, Carroll decided to hit the road and look at similar locations all over the United States.
Among the locations he found were the home of a house slave that ran away from President George Washington. Even though she ended up dying in poverty in a rough cabin, she was still an inspiration. When asked if she would have been better off living in the relative comfort of working in the Mount Vernon plantation home, she said she would prefer to be poor and free.
Carroll also found the birthplace of the man who created a great deal of the vaccinations that the world uses today and had a hand in literally saving millions of lives. And, on the other side of that coin, he tracked down the probable origins of the "Spanish Influenza" (in the American West, not in Spain).
How about the location of the earliest DNA samples in North America that re-wrote the history books? The site of a million graves on a New York City's Hart Island that serves as a giant Potter's Field? The place where the first two-stage rockets were built and fired? Or the place where the modern elevator was built? Carroll talks about all of these and even more.
Some of the locations aren't particularly historical in my mind, but this was an interesting, rambling look at obscure history that often tied in to the some of the biggest historical events of the last two hundred years. Carroll looks into why some of them are forgotten. Many times it is because they are embarrassing, such as Washington's runaway slave or the hospital in California that sterilized more people than any other hospital in the country as part of a pre-World War II eugenics movement. Other times there is no particular reason why they are forgotten - they just get lost in the shuffle of history.
Carroll ends the book with a roundabout reminder that our own lives are filled with personal histories of our friends, neighbors and relatives that we should not let get lost like those other stories have.
I listened to this book as an audiobook. It was read by the author, a fact that I didn't know until I began writing this review. I think that says all you need to know about his performance - he was so solid that I had no idea that a professional reader was not reading the book.
I rate this audiobook 5 stars out of 5. This book can be found on Amazon.com here: HERE IS WHERE: DISCOVERING AMERICA'S FORGOTTEN HISTORY by Andrew Carroll.