E-migo Nate Winchester passes along the above-referenced piece of advice from a Leftist loon (BIRM). Therefore, reading history is for retards.
But if you must read some, be sure it’s written by a non-academic, not published by a university press OR by a big traditional publisher. If the author describes himself as an “independent researcher,” that’s usually best — this is usually a guy who scraped through a PhD program but can’t get an academic job, because he was outed as a conservative in grad school and the open-minded, extra-tolerant, diversity-uber-alles Liberals in the ivory tower have blackballed him for life.
Actually, it’s better if the guy doesn’t have a PhD, or a degree of any kind in the subject of History. If you still respect degrees, you have no idea what actually goes on in the ivory tower. I honestly can’t tell you want they DO learn there — and that’s after umpteen years in and around academia — but I can tell you what they DON’T. The following list of things you’d think would be minimum qualifications for teaching history, that all history teachers are blissfully ignorant of, is far from exhaustive. Read ’em and weep:
Basic economics. This is even more baffling when you consider that teachers are all Marxists. Marx’s actual philosophy is a dog’s breakfast of Hegelian “Spirit” junk, but in practice he boils all human endeavors whatsoever down to economics. No, not kidding — cf. Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, which btw is the foundation of the feminists’ claim they are the Most Oppressed People Ever (MOPE). Given their obsessive focus on economics, you’d think they’d at least know a little bit about it…. until you remember that they’re all Marxists, and learning the first thing about economics entails learning that Marx was wrong about everything. Read instead: Thomas Sowell, Basic Economics. Sowell is overhyped for reasons that don’t need stating, but he really is a clear (if dry) writer who’s very good at boiling complex issues down. Basic Economics is long, but you’ll only need to read it once. If you really want to stick the quadruple axel, go for Ludwig von Mises’s Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis.
Anything military. Another surprise, if you think the academic study of history has anything to do with how people behave — the only thing humans do more than shop is fight (and no war since caveman days lacks a significant economic component). And yet, you couldn’t play a pickup basketball game with the number of history professors who call themselves military historians… and as for grad students, the less said, the better. I remember bursting out laughing in the middle of a grad seminar; I couldn’t help myself. When my furious colleague asked me just what was so funny about her theory, I replied: “logistics.” She had no idea what the word meant. Read instead: There are a zillion war nerds out there, and they all have blogs. I guarantee you there’s something published somewhere that goes into excruciating detail about every single weapon, leader, tactic, and strategy from Og the Caveman to whoever is leading our current merry adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Guys like Brent Nosworthy write great overviews.
Basic sexuality. The only thing humans do more than fight is screw, and… well, to be fair, this is what you’d call “opportunistic ignorance.” When it comes right down to it, all but the actual blue-haired nose-ringers know there are only two sexes (and even the BHNRs wake up in cold sweats at night, suspecting it). Problem is, asserting it pisses off the BHNRs, and there goes your career. Also, claiming there are umpteen different sexes and genders lets you publish stuff that wouldn’t stand a snowball’s chance of seeing print if it relied on traditional academic standards like “evidence” and “coherence.” Publish or perish. Read instead: Sex Trouble, by Robert Stacy McCain. He knows more about Gender and Sexuality Studies than most of the persyns who teach it… and he ruthlessly mocks it all.
Basic ecology. Not stuff like “C02 feeback mechanisms.” Not even stuff like “What is CO2”? I mean questions like: “A whole bunch of North Africa that is now desert used to be the breadbasket of the Roman Empire. What happened? Legionaries in SUVs? Or the opposite — they used to grow wine grapes in Iceland, you know. Iceland! Was that, you know, Viking pollution, or what?” And hey, speaking of…
Basic biology. One of the greatest — and dumbest, and most dishonest — pop-science books of the last generation was Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, which peddles a biological reductionism so extreme it’d make Mengele blush. Papua New Guineans are really the smartest people on earth — he really says this — despite never making past stone tools and penis gourds. It’s all environment, you see. The Incas lacked domesticable animals more productive than the llama, so they never invented the wheel, and that’s why the smallpox got ’em. I’m really not exaggerating too much. IQ? Never heard of it. Read instead: Primitive Culture, by E.B. Tylor. Published in 1871, and I dare you to refute it. Well, you probably could take a decent stab at it, Seven Regular Readers, but nobody I know with a Liberal Arts PhD would even know where to start.
And that’s why college is a big ol’ scam. Whatever you do, don’t read the history.