Monday 14 June 2010

In retrospect: It All started with Europa

In spite of scoring good marks in History while at school, I was not a great fan of the subject. Why? My History teacher! All that I remember of him is the way he used to quiz us on dates (years, of course) which would eventually be followed by caning if we gave the wrong answer. Now I got the most canings. I could not remember the dates with exception to the ones experienced by me!

Now why this sudden talk of history, you would wonder. It all started when a blogger friend requested me to get two books from Belfast, out of which one was It all started with Europa by Richard Armour. Just flipping pages to browse through, I found myself reading from cover to cover. What a way to record history! If only I had been taught history this way, I would have never got caning and would have remembered every single detail.

It all started with Europa by Richard Armour

Armour employs liberal dosages of pun, satire, humour, wit and irony to describe people and events; This makes the otherwise dry and mundane details worth remembering. Back in my school days, studying the causes and impact of World Wars I and II were excruciating as there were so many details involved. I tried quickly reading on World Wars I and II in Armour's book and as you guessed, I was thrilled to bits by the manner in which he describes the two wars.

I was left wondering as to how good a history teacher Armour would make. And I can bet that everyone who read the book would have thought along the same lines. 

I am delighted to quote some lines from the book so that you could get a feel of what the book is like.

Other Great Greeks (Pg 17)

Not all the Greeks were sculptors and philosophers. . . . Yet another was Damocles, who walked around with a sword suspended over his head. (The suspense was terrible.)

The Legacy of Greek (Pg 18)

We are indebted to the Greeks for Greek theaters, Greek fraternities, Greek restaurants, and such Memorable Expressions as "It's all Greek to me."

Italian Patriots (Pg 94)

The most colourful character in the struggle for unification was Gary Baldy, an Italian general who suffered from a receding hairline.

I would gladly give many quotes but I stop here as I would like you to read the book sometime when you have access to it.

Finally some excerpts from the last page 'About the Author':

Richard Armour is one man, although he seems to be atleast three. . . . A Californian, Dr. Armour is now Professor of English at Scripps College and the Claremont Graduate School. He has, as he says, two costumes, "cap and gown and cap and bells."

Book picture courtesy:


  1. I know from my own experience how a teacher can affect the way we view a certain subject. Almost all my grades in school depended more on the teachers, than my interest in the subjects.;) I excelled and failed depending on the quality of the teaching.
    History though was always my favorite and is still today, in the school of life.
    That book though sounds very interesting, I might just inquire about this from my Irish source.;)
    Have a lovely Monday,

  2. i SO know what you mean about history and being taught by those who should not be teaching - history - neither in high school or college did i have a history instructor who could actually do anything more than recite dates and events or read them from a book and consider that teaching - with one exception - and that was a college professor who taught american history from his own perspective of having traveled the country on a bike - and he included the wonderful works of literature and works of art and all things bright and beautiful as well as all the other historical markings - intertwined and intermingled magnificently -

    but, susan, "caning"?????? REALLY??? UNBELIEVABLE!!! bless your hear!!!

  3. =)
    Smile because I had a love hate relationship with history.. I hated remembering dates and still think its stupid. According to my understanding of the subject.. I knew.. what happened.. and why it happened and what followed... but never the date. Of course History teachers can be sooo boring... I was left with no choice but to hate it.

    Now.. I am curious to read this book. =)

  4. I never have loved history as a subject, mostly due to teachers and the lack of my interest which did not prevent me remembering all the dates and scoring well in history quizzes.
    The main point is that any subject presented in a simple manner with a bit of humor would be remembered much better than if presented in traditional manner.

  5. I love history, and thankfully I am lucky enough to have a brilliant teacher. But clearly, that's not always the case! This sounds like a wonderful book, and just the sort I'd like. I must get my hands on a copy of it :D

  6. It goes without saying that a good teacher can do wonders to the subject he teaches.

    History , I think, is more interesting than any other subject ,mainly because "History repeats itslf". It's not just a quote, there's much truth in it. World War 2 was preceded by a very bad economic situation in Europe, and I'm very much afraid, a World War 3 is not "far behind" although people nowadays are more pacifistic, have more to lose, etc..

  7. Dear Zuzana:

    My Maths, Chemistry were all bad as the teachers wrote me off. Good in a way as English continues to be a lovely companion.


    Your History teacher would have rocked! Good for you. I am glad you remember him after all these years. A gift indeed.

  8. Sameera:

    Please read the book. You can order it through Amazon, like I did.


    Welcome aboard the meanderings. We love new company! Humour is the teacher's greatest ally. One should know how to exploit it. Shall look forward to more visits from you :)

  9. Sam:

    I knew that you liked History. Please get a copy. Should be available easily in London. And tell me how was the book after reading it. Shall await :)


    Teachers make all the difference. I liked the way you've said 'History repeats itself.' So very true!
    Yeah, even I was thinking of WW III when I read the book but sadly Richard Armour is there no more to record WW III.

    Joy always.



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