My teachers at school were always happy to tell me that we were studying history so as to learn from it. In Dizzy City, Nicholas Griffin gives us a story that reminds us that those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Unfortunately, that coin has two sides. In this novel we follow in the steps of a young and brash London lad who is taken off the streets of his city and sent with three of his friends to fight in France in WW I. When they are all lost to him in a disastorous bomb strike, he uses his street smarts to get as far away from war as he can. This flight brings him to the dizzy city of New York. However, before he knows it, he finds himself right back in the war only this time he’s involved with the profiteers not the soldiers. Benjamin Cramb is caught up in a world that is much bigger than he can imagine and as he struggles to understand and survive we are reminded of two things that history has brought us. War is where many of our richest families got their financial start – making munitions, much like the gun makers in Texas today, and selling them to which ever side has the money. And the shocks of war can produce a Johnny Got His Gun result even though the exterior person looks okay.
As I read today’s news, the story of the war in Iraq and the fact that somehow we are spending 12 and a half million dollars an hour, I realize that history is repeating and just like Ben, I feel just as powerless to stop it. The people who learned from history are still making money and the people who didn’t are still dying because of it.