Unusual American History 101.
February 18, 2011 4:48 AM Subscribe
American history nerds: What are your favorite unusual, quirky, or unique events in American history?
I’m in the midst of compiling a list of episodes in American history of interest to readers born outside of the United States. I’d like to focus on episodes with a strong wow-factor—ones that will elicit remarks along the lines of, “I thought I knew a bit about American history, but boy--this totally upends my understanding of the subject!”
While an almost infinite number of events could be cited in this context, I’d like to stick with ones that have impacted the flow of US history (even to a lesser degree), and can be considered worthwhile or interesting to know about if you’re living outside of the US. For example, the history of Area 51 probably doesn’t fit the bill, because it’s primarily of interest to UFO researchers (or fanatics). Yet the history of official, covert military investigations into UFO reports might be a good candidate. I’m also interested in events in which the wow-factor springs out from the topic heading, e.g., “Did you know that Coca-Cola was originally developed to combat morphine addiction, among other ailments?”
Above all, I’m looking for stories; for events that can be spun into engaging—but true!—yarns that shed light on American history in general. (Returning to the Coca-Cola example, this can be spun into an interesting paragraph on morphine addiction in the Civil War, and then into a discussion of Civil War battlefield injuries.)
Putting yourself in the shoes of someone outside of the US—shoes you might be occupying right now, of course—what are some of the unusual, unique, or surprising stories that you’ve become enamored with, and would like to know more about?
Bonus points for book recommendations, too!