As the 2018 book winners come in from everywhere (I feel as though I am drowning in recommendations), I am starting last year’s Pulitzer winning fiction Underground Railroad.
After months of reading about Andrew Jackson and the War of 1812 from the US perspective, I am enjoying the view of the War of 1812 from the English side presented in the FX program Taboo. I am binge watching it on HULU. This is not Masterpiece Theater.
I have been enjoying the fictional presentation of the Hudson Bay Company in the Canadian made television series Frontier. Until I started watching the FX based Taboo, I had no image of the East India Company in Canada. Now I am comparing the fictional accounts presented in the television series to what historians present as more factual.
I am especially interested in the role of the two English companies in the genocide of the indigenous people of North America and the enslavement of Africans. The television programs are very unlike those of my youth, in which Native Americans were presented as savages deserving of death and Africans as savages deserving of enslavement.
Both television programs are gut wrenchingly violent. With the English being presented as the most violent. Both shows portray the importance of class and nationality in England. The poor were very poor and the Irish were generally poor and oppressed. I have recently watched several movies with these same themes.
Ever since I was a child fascinated by the historical fiction of Canadian author Thomas B. Costain, I have not been able to resist comparing how novelists and historians present the same time period or historical incidents.
So, in addition to comparing the two television shows to historical works, I am off and running on the Underground Railroad.
I started attending school in 1950, when I was four years old. I stopped teaching school, probably for good, in 2016. That amounts to 66 years of reading books because they were required by classes in which I was a student or classes in which I was the teacher. My own choices had to be snuck in on the side.
I am 72 years old. My eyesight is failing and I can’t read as rapidly as in the past. I am also coping with constant back pain and autoimmune flares. I am very comfortable coping with these by reading and watching what I select for myself. I tend to ignore recommendations that are not on topics of current interest as politely as possible.
Of course, I am interested in recommendations for fictional (video or written) and historical (video or written) works on English history during the colonization of North America and the enslavement of Africans, as well as those that deal with the so called Underground Railroad.