Like most Americans, I took the usual high school level history classes. At the time, they seemed dull and worthless. Memorizing dates and events, and the bland US history they cram down your pie hole, it is no wonder why I was nonplussed.
Then my 3rd year of university, I took a real US History class at SJSU and my eyes were opened. The professor was not very dynamic, but the subject was fascinating. I learned that we had been pretty much lied to in high school, that there was plenty of events and actions in the US historical record to be ashamed of.
Still, the passion, while awakened, wasn’t elevated enough to action.
Fast forward 20 years. I was stumbling around Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, and I stumble across a tome on the history of mathematics. This stirred a long dormant passion.
Having studied Physics, which is a lot of applied mathematics, I realized that we often covered in a semester what took a few hundred years of effort by several very talented mathematicians and natural philosophers to “discover“. I always wanted to get into the stepping stones to the eureka moments.
So I bought the book. It was FABULOUS reading. I was riveted. I quickly picked up several more texts on it, and they often talked about the sponsors of the work, and this got to politics.
Then, one Christmas, my dad gave me a book by Daniel Boorstin, on the major discoveries throughout the ages, called “The Discoverers“, the first book in a trilogy with “The Creators“, and “The Seekers“. I highly recommend all three.
I was hooked. I bought several others of his books, including the trilogy on the American Experience.
The passion was ignited. I have added books on the history of Vietnam War, the history of Europe from the middle ages through the modern era (fascinating, and very relevant to understanding the geopolitical world at the time of the revolutionary war of independence.)
Where this passion will go, I don’t know, but I suspect if I was in my late ‘teens, I would strongly consider a major in history instead of physics.