Monday, February 19, 2007

The Story of Mankind (Another Post)

I trudged through TSOM because that is just the kind of nerd that I am. Mostly I found the book painfully anachronistic. But some parts do parlay onto today's events in a sort of semi-humorous way. I doubt either of my kids will ever read it (unless participating in a NP of his or her own). The book is so inundated with van Loon's personality -- I bet he was really something. I wonder if he strove to be a hero* or if he was just happy to memorialize historical "heroes".

Bits I Found Post-It Worthy (Inane/Amusing, Library Copy, No Marks)

"For history is like life. The more things change, the more they remain the same." (Chapter, Charlemagne)

"After more than two thousand years, the mothers of India still frighten their naughty children by telling them that 'Iskander will get them,' and Iskander is none other than Alexander the Great, who visited India in the year 330 before the birth of Christ, but whose story lived through all these ages." (Chapter, Pope vs. Emperor)

"But there were other smells of the barnyard variety--odors of decaying refuse which had been thrown into the street--of pig-sties surrounding the Bishop's palace--of unwashed people who had inherited their coats and hats from their grandfathers and who never learned the blessing of soap." (Chapter, The Medieval City)

Savonarola's Tale (Chapter, The Renaissance)

"Again I wish that I could make this book a thousand pages long." (Chapter, The Great Discoveries)

"And the sea once more shall be the undisturbed home of the little fishes, who once upon a time shared their deep residence with the earliest ancestors of the human race." (Chapter, The Great Discoveries)

"People began to ask questions. And questions, when they cannot be answered, often cause a great deal of trouble." (Chapter, The Reformation)

"Philip was the son of Charles and a Portuguese princess who had been first cousin to her own husband. The children that are born of such a union are apt to be rather queer." (Chapter, Religious Warfare)

"If you can export more to your neighbor than he exports to your own country, he will owe you money and will be obliged to send you some of his gold." (Chapter, The Mercantile System)

"[W]e begin to understand those anxious British mothers who used to drive their children to bed with the threat that 'Bonaparte, who ate little girls and boys for breakfast, would come and get them if they were not very good.'" (Chapter, Napoleon)

Illustration of "The Monroe Doctrine" (Chapter, National Independence). Best considered with: "The Prophet promised that those who fell, facing the enemy, would go directly to Heaven . . . it explains why even to-day Moslem soldiers will charge into the fire of European machine guns quite indifferent to the fate that awaits them and why they are such dangerous and persistent enemies." (Chapter, Mohammed)

"[R]evolutionary weather-cock of Europe . . ." (Chapter, National Independence)

"[A] new coat of glory-paint." (Chapter, National Independence)

"Oscar Wilde once quipped, 'As long as war is regarded as wicked it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.' If he had substituted the word 'unprofitable' for 'vulgar' he would have come even closer to the truth." (Chapter, The United Nations)

*"And the moral of the story is a simple one. The world is in dreadful need of men who will assume the new leadership . . . Some day, a man will arise who will bring the vessel safely to port, and he shall be the hero of the ages." (Chapter, A New World)


Betsy said...

This is definitely the one that I'm most afraid to begin reading. I've loved all of the other ones so far but this one seems daunting. But I guess if I want to read them all, I have to push through!

Bekah said...

Great quotes to capture the overall tone of the book. Glad to know I'm not the only pig-headed nerd to plow through a book on strength of will alone. ;)

josh said...

Thanks for the quotes. I liked all of them. Van Loon has great writing style.