July 26th, 2013

history

History meme: woman


One wonders why this is "woman" rather than "women." But never mind that, let's talk about my mom.

My mom read a lot, and while she probably read more mysteries than anything else, by volume at least, but she also liked reading history. There were three subjects that particularly interested her: The Spanish Civil War, the life of T. E. Lawrence, and the American Civil War.

She came to be a Civil War buff fairly late in life, and like a lot of others her gateway was the PBS documentary. From there, she moved on to Shelby Foote's three-volume history of the war, and thence to visiting the battlefields. I'm trying to remember if I ever visited any Civil War site with her. Ball's Bluff in Leesburg, possibly? None other spring to mind. I know I was with my brother the first time I visited Harper's Ferry and Gettysburg, and I'm pretty sure I was by myself when I visited the others I've been to.

Her interest in T. E. Lawrence stems, I assume, from the movie Lawrence of Arabia, which was one of her favorite movies. Maybe not her absolute favorite -- I think she would have put Gone with the Wind at the top -- but if it wasn't number two I don't know what would have been. I remember she owned Lawrence's own Seven Pillars of Wisdom and several other books about him. I'm aure she made a point of seeking out his bust in the crypt of St. Paul's Cathedral when she visited London in 1976, and it wouldn't surprise me if she visited other related sites in London, like the home in London where he wrote Seven Pillars of Wisdom, or the Imperial War Museum, which has a lot of items related to Lawrence in its collection.

As for the Spanish Civil War, I have no idea why she was interested in that. She was only three when war broke out, and six when it ended, so I can't imagine that she had any childhood memories of it. Maybe she was a big fan of For Whom the Bell Tolls. I never thought to ask what it was that so interested her about it.

As for me, the only one of these I know very much about is the American Civil War -- it's hard to be an American history major without picking up at least a little bit about the subject, especially when your academic adviser is a Civil War specialist -- but I'm not a Civil War buff by any stretch of the imagination. I've seen Lawrence of Arabia, but know nothing about Lawrence aside from what I gleaned from that. And I may literally know nothing about the Spanish Civil War other than what side won. I should probably do something about that.

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