Reglar Wiglar


SImple history series

[Microcosm Publishing]

Reviewed by Chris Auman

Simple History #10: The Cold War

Simple History #10: The Cold War

J. Gerlach

[Microcosm Publishing]

J. Gerlach is back with another mini-history lesson, this time on the Cold War between the two Super Powers of the mid-to-late 20th Century: USA vs. USSR. The Cold War is quickly becoming a distant memory as we fry new fish in the 21st century. We like our wars a bit warmer now, but the War on Terror still plays the same games. We still prop up weaker allies whose interests we believe match our own while inadvertently sowing the seeds for future conflicts. This is now and that was then, however.

In this current installment, Gerlach lays out all the major events and the players in his Cliff's Notes of History style. You got your revolutions, your arms races, your pacts, your treaties and agreements as well as espionage, air lifts, thaws, freezes, police actions, standoffs and stalemates and it all ended when Mr. Reagan asked Mr. Gorbachev to tear down that wall in Berlin. Not quite, but I've heard it spun that way. Let us also not forget that the Cold War produced some great movies too. No, I'm not talking about Dr. Strangelove and the Manchurian Candidate, I'm talking about Red Dawn and Spies Like Us!

Simple History #9: The Congo

Simple History #9: The Congo

J. Gerlach

[Microcosm Publishing]

To quote the Daily Show’s Earth, The Book: “...no other continent could more truly say, I was raped.” Talking of course about the continent of Africa. Pretty blunt, but there you have it. The area in central Africa known as the Congo is just one region, albeit a very large one, that was ripe for exploitation by European powers in the mad rush to secure the world's land and resources that started in the 16th Century. In the Congo's case, it was Belgium that took the lead, but they seemed to hardly have the heart for it.

Control of the Congo was ceded and regained countless times as slave trading, foreign meddling and the indigenous peoples' inability to work out their own tribal differences and prejudices would plague them for decades to come. Congo's recent history is no less blood-free and has been mired in civil war and struggles with power-hungry dictators and staggering poverty. And that's a summation of J. Gerlach's simple history of a very complicated region of a very complicated continent. If I may again quote from Earth, "our species arose from Africa and we punished it for our failures ever since." Up next: Extreme climate change. Sorry again, Africa.

Simple History #5: Hawaii J. Gerlach

Simple History #5: Hawaii

J. Gerlach

[Microcosm Publishing]

Number five in Microcosm's Simple History Series chronicles the history of the Hawaiian Islands from their "discovery" by Captain Cook in 1778 to the eventual statehood granted by the United States in 1959. Hawaii's story is a tale of colonization, exploitation, imposed capitalism and governments and corporations slicing themselves up the biggest piece of the poi. It's a story of Kings, Queens, Politicians, Missionaries and, as always, ordinary People caught in the middle. And that, folks, is pretty much the history of everything everywhere. Unfortunately..

Hawaii's history post 1959 would continue to have highs (the alleged birth of the 44th President of the United States) and lows (Honolulu's perpetual hosting of the National Football League's incredibly pointless Pro Bowl) and then of course there was Bobby Brady's "discovery" of an ancient tiki on September 22, 1972.

Simple History #4: The Spanish Civil War

Simple History #4: The Spanish Civil War

J. Gerlach

[Microcosm Publishing]

Microcosm’s Simple History Series is a collection of small zines on big historical events. They're sort of like the notes that a really good student would take in a history class while the rest of us doodled and decorated the covers of our notebooks with our favorite bands' names (Me: Hüsker Dü, You: Mötely Crüe, probably). The subject of issue number four is the Spanish Civil War—another major turning point in the war between left and right-wing ideologies that would preoccupy world powers for the next few wars (hot and cold) for the bulk of the 20th Century. This edition is interesting, easy to digest and kind of a cool thing to have on the bookshelf next to your Johnny Ryan comics—kinda classes things up a bit (no offense, Johnny).

Reglar Wiglar

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