Michael Crichton passed away this week. As a measure of the stature he has attained in popular culture, the news penetrated the roar of a presidential election to make a headline or two in just about every media source. One that caught my eye is “Michael Crichton got my son hooked on reading.” Yup, I remember reading The Terminal Man as a kid and thinking it was sort of different — it was science fiction, but without ray guns or spaceships. But science fiction is an easy hook compared with history. This being a history blog, the question we need to ask is: When did you get hooked on history? What was the first history book that made you sheepishly approach the reference desk at the local library and say, “Did this guy write any other books?”
I can’t think of any LDS history book that fits the bill for me. At 16 I checked out Essentials of Church History from the ward library (back when the ward library actually had books) but I don’t recall it made much of an impression on me — the prose doesn’t exactly sizzle. I remember back in grade school I was fascinated with a couple of books on World War II, one on the Battle of the Atlantic with German submarines hunting Allied freighters and Allied destroyers hunting German submarines, the other on the Battle of Britain, with Spitfires and Hurricanes battling Messerchmidts and Focke-Wulfs. But I didn’t consciously identify these as history books and head off to explore the wonders of 909 or 973. A missed opportunity.
So what was the first book you recall reading in history or LDS history that made an impression on you? And if you have read any Crichton books, you’re welcome to toss those in, too.