Wednesday, June 3, 2009

More or Less Bunk

It's common knowledge that Henry Ford coined the phrase: "History is bunk". What he really said wasn't quite that dogmatic - the correct statement is: "History is more or less bunk".
Even though I have a passion for the subject, I tend to agree with him - up to a point.
More bunk has been written about certain historical events and the people who created them than is necessary, and I don't intend to give them further coverage. There is already far too much bunk out there on overexposed names like Anne Boleyn, Napoleon, Cleopatra, Dracula, Princess Di, etc.
I'm much more interested in the less side of history: the people, places, events, mysteries, curiosities, and stories that are too unglamorous to ever make it onto the front pages. I pick them up in odd places and pop them into my bucket.
Unlike Henry Ford, I usually gun for losers. They tend to be much more interesting than winners - who often end up losers anyway, eg Anne Boleyn, Napoleon, et al.
History being the masculine monopoly it is, many of my bucket-dwellers are women - unsung powers behind thrones, long-suffering wives and mothers, camp followers.
But I also aim to give coverage to men who deserve a better press: those who came second in battles or races in exploration, or who just failed to make the right impact because of their beliefs, their honesty, or their inability to network successfully and suffer fools. They are my kind of people.