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History Reading Challenge 2014 – A Sail to the Past

Thanks, Fanda, for hosting this fantastic challenge.

History was one of my favorite subjects in school. I wonder why I didn’t read many history books in the past years, but I guess next year is a good start.

I’m signing up for scholar level:

1. In The Garden of Beasts – Erik Larson [Goodreads]
2. Flapper – Joshua Zeits [Goodreads]
3. The Murder of the Century – Paul Collins [Goodreads]
4. Catherine the Great – Robert K. Massie [Goodreads]

**How to join?**

1. To join in, you must have either blog/Facebook/Goodreads where you can post your thoughts.
2. Pick one of the level suits you, and post about this challenge in your blog, or just comment in this post. You can mention books you’d like to read too—but no obligation (I’m only curious!). Of course, you might change the level or the books later on along the event.
3. Register through the linky below (you might put the link to your challenge post or just your blog/FB/Goodreads URL).
4. Place the challenge banner somewhere on your blog, linking to this post, in case others want to participate too.

**Optional analysis – more challenge!**

After reading and reviewing, you might want to add more challenge to your history reading. As I am working on WEM project, I picked these analysis questions from the project that would be interesting to work on. Go to the analysis questions.

Of course you can choose to work on all of it, or parts of it, or none at all. It’s optional, anyway. But….your efforts would well rewarded, as in the end of the challenge, every analysis post would be included in….

**Analysis Questions**

Note: The questions might not suit all history books, so you’d better pick only the related ones for each book.

Who is this story about?
Guiding questions: (you don’t have to answer all questions, you can answer your own way)
– Are they individuals, group of people, or entire nations?
– If individuals: Is the history focused on a single person, or on a network of individuals who may be related by blood or some other tie?
– If group of people: How does the historian distinguish them: by nationality, gender, age, class, job, economic status?
– In both cases: Is the historian telling you a ‘top-down’ or ‘bottom-up’ history? In other words, is it focusing on wealthy, influential people, political power? Or on ordinary people and their daily lives?
– If entire nations: What is distinctive about each nation? How do its people envision themselves: as warriors, men of learning, farmers, free people? And how (in the historian’s eyes) is the nation better (or worse) than other nations?

What challenge did this hero/ine (from above question) face?
What challenges the ability of the central character(s) to lead full lives?

Who or what causes this challenge?
The historian’s task is to answer this question; does he/she succeed in doing so?

What does it mean to be human?
Guiding questions: (you don’t have to answer all questions, you can answer your own way)
– A history always highlights one particular aspect of human beings as central.
– In this history, how are men and women portrayed?
– Are they essentially workers, patriots, members of families, businessmen, rational animals, children of God?
– What is their central quality?
– To what must they aspire in order to be human?

Why do things go wrong?
Guiding questions: (you don’t have to answer all questions, you can answer your own way)
– What causes one set of people to be challenged or persecuted by another?
– What motivates the oppressors?
– Why do people live in squalor?
– What motivation does the historian give to his/her wrongdoers?

What is the end of the history?
Guiding questions: (you don’t have to answer all questions, you can answer your own way)
– How is the end different from the beginning?
– What is the goal of the historical story?
– What does the historian see as the ultimate shape and form of humanity?

And now, have a good sail to the past for the whole year!