It is hard to imagine that history can be a living thing. However, it is. Academics find new evidence to contributing to the narrative that is told in regards to the events that has transpired. However, this new addition of the narrative can change textbooks, museum exhibits, and the conversations we have. This is where conflicts can occur between evolving narratives and what has been the traditional narratives.
History Wars by Edward Linenthal and Tom Engelhardt focused on one specific flashpoint in this discussion of the narrative of American history. This flashpoint was over the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum putting together an exhibit to feature the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. Veterans struggled with the narrative of the exhibit for many reasons. Academics felt like their research in the topic wasn’t considered when the museum try to appease veterans by edit the exhibit to be more neutral. Arguments and negotiations between these groups grew in pitch. It got so bad that it became a part of the headlines. Congress got involved. Protests happened. Eventually, the Smithsonian and veteran’s group both walked away with tattered reputations.
Edward Linenthal and Tom Engelhardt take the events that occurred to analyze how and why both groups got to this level of conflict. They explore if the contributing factors played a role in the conflict as well as estimate if this is one off incident. It is such a well-rounded and unbiased look that you walk away feeling like you understand each party and their issues. It leaves room for you to make your own thoughts and conclusions on how it should have been handled as well. It is a book that makes you feel smarter and more understanding. So, why not pick up History Wars and learn something new?