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Footnotes To Life

Because sometimes we need them to help us understand…

brad-meltzers-decoded-logo-with-history-logoMr. Meltzer,

I appreciate the amusement I get from your series on the History channel. It’s actually quite refreshing to hear such rampantly sarcastic predictions for the future as you put forth in your episode on the end of the world in 2012. I must assume they’re sarcastic, because you make wilder leaps than I do during a game of Assassin’s Creed.

Your logic goes a little something like this. All dogs have four legs, this animal has four legs, therefore this animal is a Bengal Tiger. These leaps of faith do make life interesting, but you seem to take them quite seriously. I don’t want to waste too much time pointing out every error, but I do at least want to point out some of the funniest most egregious.

Let’s start with the survival experts. I should point out a survival expert is an expert in survival, rather than in ancient Mayan predictions. Those you interviewed provided excellent descriptions of what happens after a calamity and excellent explanations of how to prepare for it, but unfortunately, they were a little shaky on whether the Mayan prediction would come true. I understood their confusion though, because they’re survivalists, rather than, you know… historians.

Having said that, I do believe you included one nice gent who said he’d use text messages to notify his followers after all modern infrastructure had crashed. I’m not sure he understood the cell phones would be out as well, because they’re part of the crumbling infrastructure. Either way, it doesn’t matter too much. Anyone he can’t reach via cell phone can Skype in later on.

We should also take a brief look at your predictions about the Black Death. For Europe in the 14th century – you said the 13th century, but it was, in fact, the 14th –this was a terrifying disease. Fortunately, modern medicine and modern sanitation have helped us overcome this terrible disease. I believe the lack of open sewers and an understanding of how disease spreads will lessen both the fear and reach of bubonic plague.

Furthermore, I appreciated your ability to weave a zombie outbreak into something that purports to be a serious documentary. I know nothing sells programs like a bit of undead scaremongering, but there has only been one reported case of zombie-ism in the United States, but that turned out to be a nasty red-wine hangover.

Finally, ending on the note “well, no-one laughed out loud when we mentioned the prediction,” therefore it must be true, is a little assumptive isn’t it? I was under the impression historians needed more evidence than the lack of a guffaw before they passed off a theory as fact. Knowing this would have saved me a lot of time in college.

Oh, by the way, the random jab you got in there about needing to loosen gun control laws because we’ll need them when the apocalypse comes made me laugh out loud. So if you need someone to do that for you next time, I’d be happy to oblige.

Since your program must be an elaborate work of fiction, I think you should include one of the disclaimers they have on Law and Order, stating that any relationship your program has with reality is purely coincidental. Just to prevent any confusion.


A. Concerned Historian


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