History Is Us


“History is us,” an aged mentor at Indiana University once declared as he sought to convince me to switch to his department. “We can’t shake loose of it. We are nothing without it.” I realized recently that I could use those words to explain why I write The Bone Rattler novels. We are all defined by history and the twisting, arduous human journey it reflects. It’s in our blood, in our DNA, in every institution in our lives, even in the way we speak. It is the sole thing we own that can never be taken from us. History is our foundation. Without it we are a mere slate wiped clean each night, to be filled up by whatever disconnected, but trending, thoughts that social media algorithms throw at us the next day.

Life is much richer, much more fulfilling, if we connect ourselves to that journey or, in other words, embrace our history. I seek in my books to encourage readers to do just that, to lure them into experiencing lives that have gone before, into investing a personal stake in the past. That investment will pay huge dividends in the form of a more meaningful life, and a richer passage along your human journey. Stand on the deck of a square-rigged merchantman with the Atlantic slapping your cheek, wander a wilderness trail with a wise old native, feel the goosebumps as a lonely bagpipe pierces the night. Such experiences aren’t fiction, they are fragments of our past. Your DNA may have been there, may have had these very experiences, which in a way means you were there. We are each an amalgam of thousands of such experiences. Take a deep breath and consider which might be yours. Embark on this journey with me. We can’t know who we are without knowing who we were.

Eliot Pattison