Tuesday, January 23, 2007
It appears my readings have lead me to the Spanish Civil War (don't ask, I really can't say how I got there either). Anyway, I have picked up a rather hefty tome written by a fellow named Hugh Thomas (1100 pages or so), seems to be the definitive work blah blah. Now, I was a history major, and a history graduate student so I got the pleasure of reading a lot of hefty tomes. The reason for this post is simple while reading this history I get to read a lot about the major actors of the Spanish Civil War. One in particular struck a chord. Seems there was this fellow named Miguel Primo de Rivera, a military chap who was a veteran of Spain's Rif Wars in Morocco. After that lovely experience he manages to "climb to the top of that greasy pole" and become dictator of Spain from 1923 to 1930. These were turbulent years in Spain, and Primo de Rivera did his best I suppose, but was unable to solve the problems that were to embroil Spain in Civil War six years later. The point is this; here is this man who led a major country during and extremely volitate time for 7 years, and he warrants about three paragraphs in Mr. Thomas' book. This is not an indictment of Mr. Thomas, he has a big story to tell, but merely a statement on being obscure. This guy a major player in world politics warrants three paragraphs. His life reduced to three paragraphs ending with he "died alone in a Paris hotel possibly of diabetes, no one knows for sure his exact cause of death." Presumably, this man had a family, people that loved him maybe a wife that bore him children, or maybe he didn't the history does say. Pretty sure the fellow had enemies, people that did not care what he died of just so long as he died. Once again, I can't be sure the history is silent. Then again isn't history generally silent as to the majority of us? I certainly will not be becoming a leader of men anytime soon, will not risk my life for King and Country, be decorated or elected to any sort of high office. History will not pause for breathe over my life, or for the majority of our lives. These sweeping histories bring "actors" onto the stage, and kill them off with impunity. Entire lives reduced to paragraphs (if the person is lucky, if not he might just get a sentence or a passing mention in a footnote). Even being reduced to a footnote of history or consigned to the dustbin of history is more than the great majority of us will ever achieve. She/He lived, breathed, felt things, tried their best, and died. Thus, we are written out of history.