zine, [zeen] noun. 1. abbr. of fanzine; 2. any amateurly-published periodical. Oxford Reference


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Simple History Series #1

Simple History Series #1: Christopher Columbus & his expeditions to America
J. Gerlach

Microcosm Publishing

10.7cm x 14cm, 36 pages


This is #1 of a series of short, pocket sized guides to the events and personalities that dominate history. First published in 2006, these have been reprinted with updated illustrations by Microcosm. While I am a huge fan of Microcosm's zine compilations I think the benefit of this series being in cheap individual editions is in allowing students of history a focused look at individual topics. 

J. Gerlach states in the introduction:

"We are taught that we, as humans, are always moving forward - that the mistakes and prejudices of the past have been overcome. The embarrassing details about our heroes are glossed over or completely omitted from the story. Because of these tendencies, the history we are taught doesn't make sense with the world we see around us."

As Columbus is taught as a kind of hero figure in the USA (only one of two individuals to have a national holiday named in his honour), it's fitting that the series begins by taking a look at the reality of his four voyages 'west to go east'. The text also gives an overview of his ambition, goals, and motivations, which add up to traits that merely reflect a desire for fame and fortune. 

The text is well written, concise and to the point, and also includes a bibliography of source material and further reading. While the illustrations help enliven the zine, the maps help clarify the voyages in a straightforward manner. 

If you're looking for a critical overview of a historical figure prone to being eulogised - for $4 it's a no-brainer. And if you want a zine to fit in your pocket that helps expand your world view, this series is a good place to start. As J. Gerlach says:

"We have to ask ourselves, what kind of heroes do we really want?"

No comments:

Post a Comment

Search This Blog