Monday! Books and TV —
March 16, 2015
What I’ve been watching:
After being really appalled by the couple of episodes I saw of History Channel’s Sons of Liberty miniseries, which would have you believe that the American Revolution was run by a bunch of Gen Y hotties vamping and fistfighting their way across New England, and that none of them had wives and families and Abigail Adams was a walk-on part, I’ve started on the HBO series from a few years ago, John Adams.
I love it so far. Very well acted and it seems awfully more accurate: the founding fathers were for the most part established, middle-aged men with families who had a heck of a lot to lose by fomenting revolution. Abigail Adams is really damned important.
We get to the reading of the Declaration of Independence — because every show ever having to do with the American Revolution has a reading of the Declaration of Independence — and in John Adams, part of that reading is done by Abigail and their daughter. Hearing this read in women’s voices — it seems like such a little thing, but it struck me powerfully. It’s seems really, vitally important to hear it read in a woman’s voice. And I’m trying to remember, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard it read by a woman. This is a deep and striking thing that I’m still thinking about.
What I’ve been reading:
I’m reading a bunch of stuff from this year’s Nebula ballot so I can be an informed voter.
I just finished up a fantastic book about the Silk Road: Life Along the Silk Road by Susan Whitfield. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science has a great temporary exhibit right now about the Silk Road — I recommend it. This is where I picked up the book. Whitfield’s book isn’t comprehensive — it deals with mainly central Asia and western China from about the 7th to 10th centuries. But the way she approaches it is through the lives of the kinds of individuals you’d have met in these places during this time. There’s a ton of information about religion, culture, art, trading, warfare, but it’s all in the context of what these people’s lives looked like. It’s an interesting and fascinating way to present history I think.
The reason I’m researching the Silk Road: for my fantasy novel that I want to write some day, I want it sent in a diverse and tolerant culture. This means not medieval Europe. Are there medieval examples of religiously diverse and tolerant cultures? Why yes, along the Silk Road — because it turns out people can be diverse and tolerant when there’s an economic benefit in doing so. Who knew?