Saturday, April 19, 2008

Classic Texts, Part II: Around the World in 84 Pages

Kendall is tired of me reading him passages from another great home-library staple: Elementary Geography, Part Two. This gem escaped the Great Cataloguing of 2000, when Kendall's extended family, talented in the art of taxonomy, listed and photographed every item in his late Grandmother Feulner's house. A discerning family member saw my name written all over this book and smuggled it out before the book could be inspected, catalogued, boxed, and distributed to expecting heirs. I have no doubt that Grandma Feulner exhibited the highest of scruples and generally would have frowned on clandestine book-snatching, but the bright pink label in the front cover of the book tells me that the Feulner family may have done some book-snatching of their own.

A more appropriate title for the book would have been Why It's a Bad Idea to Leave the United States. Ever. Please take note of the following bits of information before booking your next around-the-world trip.

Brazil: "Of course it is very hot all the time." "The hot, damp, and dark [rain] forest is the poorest of places for a home."

Uruguay: "There is no need for us to stop in Uruguay; it is so much like Argentina that it might well be a part of it."

Ecuador: "The city in the distance looks beautiful with its white, marble-like buildings. . . .But a nearer approach brings disappointment; for what seemed to be marble turns out to be split bamboo plastered with mud and whitewashed."

Africa: "Another difficulty comes from the great numbers of savage black men . . . many of whom are dangerous to meet." "Although the tropical plateau of the Kongo is too unhealthful for the white man, the natives prosper there."

Middle East: "The character of the people also hinders production. . . .[T]he Turks have always opposed progress. . . . There is a prospect of an advance in some parts of this territory, for the Turks were defeated in the World War."

India: "The English have made many improvements there."

China: "They have believed that whatever their ancestors did, they must do. Since their fathers had no railroads, steamboats, or automobiles, they have wanted none themselves."

U.S.: "In our large cities. . .the foreign quarter is likely to be shabby and run-down, while the natives section is well built and well kept."


  1. Inconceivable! Did I read trash like that when I was in Elementary school? Do I still read trash like that without realizing it sometimes?

  2. Glad I don't have the money or free time to travel.

  3. Wow. If our current textbooks weren't so PC we could get the REAL information.
    I'm sorry Texans (and those who lived in Texas during their clerkship), but I have a suspicion that Texas textbooks have similar sorts of comments about the other 29 states.

  4. Okay, that was a misstype, but it made my comment even better: I was born and raised in Utahr, where we only recognize 29 other states.

  5. Hey, what about the part that explained the inherent character traits of hispanic people? I remember reading that.