With the advent of the Internet and self publishing, new formats and new ways of presenting material are to be expected and encouraged. It will take a while before we figure out which material matches which format. The History in60 program is a good example of work in progress, with some areas coming through clearly, and others not working so well. History in60 does what its name suggests; it encapsulates an important era in an hour’s worth of reading. How well this works depends on the material chosen.
Format and Material
The beginning of this work, laying out the first couple of centuries of European occupation of North America, is straightforward and concise, giving us the nature of the problems faced by the various players and their overall objectives and methods for solving their difficulties. This is the sort of material that presents well in condensed form.
However, the nature of the historical situation led to many small battles and a lot of marching and maneuvering where nothing much happened. Thus the middle of the book becomes a list of a large number of leaders and battles. Perhaps maps, timelines and other graphics might present this information better than long paragraphs that are difficult to plow through.
The final chapter, which concentrates on the outcome of the war and its effect on the Revolutionary War that followed, is much more clearly laid out. This sort of short format is ideal for generalizations about the motivation and outcomes of broad historical movements.
A writer who ventures into the historical fields is appealing to and in competition with educational writers who expect clear writing with precise diction. A sentence like the following will not impress teachers, historians and librarians who might use and assign this material:
“By the end of 1762, Prussia overpowered Austrian forced with British and Russian assistance.”
Even if we forgive the typo on “forces,” the sentence structure still leaves us unclear on who the British and Russians were assisting.
Another passage demonstrates similar lack of precision:
“Said to have been the incident that officially launched the French and Indian War, Tanaghrisson abruptly attacked Jumonville as he and Washington were conversing diplomatically.”
Recommended for those who want a hasty (60-minute) brush through history with no time to enjoy the surrounding details.