Friday, July 9, 2010

In Which What's Old is New Again

I recently watched a 2008 documentary called "Andrew Jackson: Good, Evil, and the Presidency" and was once again reminded that there is nothing new under the sun, history is cyclical, and that we've been there, done that. The problems that beset the young country in the early half of the nineteenth century, the infighting, the politicking, the scandal--if your eyes were closed, you'd have thought the narrator was talking about the 1990s or the 2000s, not the 1830s. But it was heartening to realize that we've been through this before (the Bank War sound familiar, anyone?) and survived, and will again. What a timely slice of history to examine more closely.

I love history, and I especially love history that's easy to swallow. A nice production that moved faster than it's two hours, without too much of an emphasis on dramatic reconstructions with modern actors (not my favorite production tool). I knew the sketchy outline of the Jackson presidency, but really didn't remember much of what I learned in American History classes in high school (that was back when dinosaurs roamed the earth). I thought it educational and interesting without being pedantic (and felt virtuously superior to having broadened my mind rather than indulged my usual summer evening television fare of old reruns). It's hard, when it's 105 degrees Farenheit outside, to muster up enough energy to tackle weighty scientific or historic problems, or to decide what to cook for dinner, for that matter. History light on a hot summer night is just perfect.

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