My aunt, the last surviving member of her generation, is 95. When I asked her about family history so I could write it down and preserve it, her response was, "Who cares? That's the past."

I got a review yesterday from a woman who loved HER HIGHNESS, but she prefaced her praise with the comment that she almost didn't read it (she won an ARC) because historicals are boring.

Obviously, I'm of a different sort. I love history, not so much the sweep of politics and armies and civilization, but the details of what people did and why. I just read an article about a Scots couple who languished in a dungeon for months because they wouldn't tell Cromwell's men where the honors of Scotland (a crown, scepter, and sword) were hidden. The wife died there, but neither revealed the secret.

I believe that people are people, no matter what their time and place. I'm sure that, although I have trouble imagining myself dying for some pieces of metal, somewhere in the world right now, someone is suffering in a similar way for something that means more to him than life, just as those people did long ago. History (and herstory too) tells us not just who they were, but who we are. It's only bad writing that makes it boring.

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Comment by John McFetridge on November 19, 2009 at 1:06am
I think historicals, like science fiction, tell us more abot the times they are written in and you're right, only bad writing makes them boring.

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