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The American philosopher George Santayana once stated that "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it."

I was a history and English major as an undergraduate, and although I did my graduate work in English, history has remained important to me as a way to understand the...

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The American philosopher George Santayana once stated that "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it."

I was a history and English major as an undergraduate, and although I did my graduate work in English, history has remained important to me as a way to understand the present world. It is a learning tool—though I sometimes despair of American culture learning its lessons. But if we, as a culture, took it seriously, we would understand that much of what we face to day has already been faced in other times and places, and we would recognize that how other people in other times dealt with the same problems can be instructive to us. If we studied history—and then, this is key—took its conclusions to heart, we could truly build a better world in the present day.

History also means to me the opportunity to get into the "skin" of another period and imagine what it was like to live without all the conveniences we have and without our modern worldview. I never forget that the past, while filled in a broad way with universal lessons, is on a granular level anachronistic—meaning different from today. I feel I can learn much about what I take for granted by studying how other cultures once lived.

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The question you asked is a personal question and one that people will answer differently. However, there are some themes that emerge from this topic. History is the study of events that occurred in the past. History, if studied and applied properly, should serve as a guide of how to live in the present and in the future. We can learn a lot about life by studying history. We can also learn how to prevent making the same mistakes over and over.

History allows a person to learn how we got to where we are today regarding world affairs, the economy, and relations among different groups of people. We can learn how countries gained power and influence. We can also learn why some people are angry because of how they were treated by history. If you asked the Native Americans how they view history, they may answer very differently than if you asked a person who benefited from treaties made with the Native Americans. The way a person views history is affected by one’s experiences and one’s perspective.

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