There is a horribly worn out old book on the book shelf in my office. It is a soft-bound copy of The Twentieth Century – An Almanac.
I used to pick up that book and read through sections all of the time, to the point that the book looks very worn out. There wasn’t anything particularly startling or new or exciting about the content of the book, except that it was history, which I enjoy.
What drew me to the book was the format.
At its heart, the book is a simple listing of details, year by year, decade by decade, in chronological order, without breaking them out into the usual topics. So rather than reading just about WWII or the Great Depression or any other events that we tend to look at in a vacuum, everything is woven together, giving a better sense, to my mind, of the complexity and parallel nature of history.
There are always a lot of things going on at once. Just because the Korean War was going on did not stop politics, the arts, diplomacy, and a whole host of other conflicts, brewing, in progress, or otherwise, from continuing apace. The world never stops.
Of course, the book’s title is a bit misleading. As it was published in 1985, it was only an almanac of roughly 84% of the 20th century. And since no update or revision was ever done, the 20th century ends with Reagan’s re-election, while the Cold War continues on.
Still, I enjoyed the book immensely. I have never found another work that combined the detail and parallel flows of history so well.
And to a certain degree, that book influences what I have ended up trying to do with this blog. Part of the blog is a chronicle of my own gaming adventures. But I also try to include bigger events, things that are landmarks in the time stream of gaming, not because I aspire to be a news site, but because they indicate what else was going on in the field.
It is an attempt to make my own almanac of gaming I suppose.
After the cut, there are lots of words about the distortion of memory, old games, and what I was playing when in a general sense, along with some charts. The charts are an attempt to provide a framework for memory, and are a work in progress themselves.
You have been warned.