Bite-Sized History: An Introduction

Thin volume on the Titanic, clearly chewed on by an animal.
History is delicious!

I have had a fascination with politics and history since grade school. I suspect that watching the news with my parents as a wee bab has a lot to do with it–Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark is the first one I remember, and I have a fondness for him like I would an uncle I don’t see very often. Good ol’ Uncle Joe, in my living room every night at six.

Wanting to understand current events drew me into the history of things, and while my post-secondary studies were in psychology, my love of political history has continued. I’m not as voracious a reader as I was in my youth, but that curiosity and yearning to understand why things are the way they are still burns within me. I know, I know; there are creams for that. But what fun would that be?

It’s impossible for one to know everything, though, and so as recent events between US and Iran have unfolded, I’ve been digging through the history for some more context. I could go back a very, very long way to the ancient history of Iran, but I think one of the reasons why people don’t tend to pay attention to history is because of how involved it inevitably becomes. The volume of information is overwhelming.

I believe this lack of attention paid to history is not just sad but dangerous; the old adage “he who does not learn history is doomed to repeat it” exists for a reason. It’s not reasonable, however, to expect everybody to have the time to sift through volumes of dense, dry tomes. We all have lives, and let’s be honest, many history authors are pretty fucking dull.

Hence, my idea of writing a bite-sized history column.

Basically, what I want to do is look at the history underpinning current events and give the Coles Notes (er…Cliff Notes, for you Americans) version. I’ll try to keep it short and approachable, highlighting what I perceive to be the key points.

I will undoubtedly make mistakes; when that happens, please bring it to my attention–I’m not a historian, just a passionate amateur, and if you have another, better source, I am all ears. I do this because I want to learn, and I’d be an ass to not stay open to new information, especially given that ‘history is written by the victors’, and stories that contradict the victors can sometimes take decades, even centuries, to come to the fore.

And if you have any requests, let me know! I can’t promise I’ll do them all–I don’t even know how frequently I’ll do this–but if it piques my curiosity, I’ll go digging 🙂

with love,

your local molegirl



  1. I LOVE this. This shit is right up my alley. Request: explain the whole Middle East in two sentences! (Just kidding haha, when I’ve had coffee I’ll come up with something more intelligent)

    • Two sentences? 0_o Holy shit. Okay…”Religion and greed complicates perspectives on who should be in charge. Interference from outsiders makes it worse.” It’s the TV Guide summary of the Middle East!

  2. I listen to Thom Hartmann all the time & he has been talking about Pompeo & Pence are some sort of Christian fundamentalists that believe they must force a conflict in the Middle East to bring on the rapture & this is the main motivation for trying to get involved in Iran. Pompeo has actually said as much recently in a Christian conference. I would love to hear more on this and your take.

        • *opens in new tab for later*

        • Pompeo is part of the new gurad for sure but it’s the same old song and dance. Hartmann was later in the run of Air America but he’s always been good about pointing how the American Taliban works in our government. He might even have been the one to coin that phrase or make me aware of it.

          I haven’t thought about Hartmann in years and going to look him up and where I can listen to him.

      • Also, fucking Kissinger. Part of me admires him, but he’s so goddamn loathsome.

        • I have a friend who lives near Kissinger and I dutifully flick off his house every time I go by there.

    • I agree with OldManInSeattle that, at least off the top, it always looks like it’s about oil, and my guess is that the Rapture stuff is just how they’re selling a certain group on getting on board with the conflict. That being said, I don’t know a ton about these hardcore Christian fundamentalists, and that’s a rabbit hole I wouldn’t mind exploring a bit! Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

    • Mulvaney too

      • Thanks for the tip! Looks like Bolton is also a Rapture nut. I suspect I’m going to find a fair number of them once I start looking…

        • Oh I genuinely didn’t know that about Bolton. Always had assumed he was just after oil and money.

  3. This sounds like fun! There are a couple of ways to go…

    You could start from the beginning, “First, the earth cooled…” or go at it like Snoopy reading War and Peace one word a day.

    I didn’t remember Clark but Wiki says he was the one between Trudeau’s stints as PM. I grew up in Michigan and CBC was a regular watch for me and I have always been fond of most things Canadian.

    • I haven’t really sorted out how I’ll pick topics–honestly, my assumption at this point is that the news will provide enough avenues of opportunity. There’s always something happening in the world. And if nothing jumps out, I’ve got some pet subjects to draw on. I’d like to use my privilege to shine a light on stories that don’t get enough airtime, you know?

      • I very often read a news item and then go try to learn about whether something similar has happened before or just some other context. I’m sure this strategy will work for you.

  4. All in.

    Looking forward to reading it.

    • Awesome, thanks! I hope I do it justice.

  5. This is a welcome addition! I don’t think Kinja had a dedicated history section and I didn’t even realize we needed one until now.

    • Yeah, I don’t think there was one on Kinja either, but there were definitely authors who would pull in historical info on the longer-form pieces.

      I’m so glad that people are into this! Yay!

  6. am i ever looking forward to this!

    Looks like we need a history category for this?

    • Yes please! 😀 I created a tag, but a category would be even better.

      • DONE!

        I edited this post to put it under the new “History” category, renamed the feature image, and added the usedtobehere tag for you to use in the future 🙂

        • Awesome, thanks! Ok to use “bite-sized history” tag as well as my username tag?

          (Unrelated, trying to comment on Constantine’s Jamboroo and getting 404s…)

          • For sure! Strings of posts like this are what the tags are for 🙂

            …I still have some work to do on the comment section (including uploading attachments).

    • “stuck in the past” if we’re still doing that?

      • That explains why when I hovered over the History category, an alt-tag “stuck in the past” appeared! Nice.

        • you’re welcome – it’s the little things, they say…

      • i beat you to it! it was the first thing i thought of when i made it.

  7. Here for this! Can’t wait!

    I will likely come up with things as we go.

    • Awesome! I look forward to your input ^_^

  8. …two things


    …& also I kind of feel like someone ought to tell Kinja’s Ron Swanson of Westeros?

    • I sometimes see him on SNS. If he’s on I’ll mention it to him.

      • …do, please – think I told him about the place a while back but it’s come along some since then?

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