The Past

While reading through a 1938 copy of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, I came across this paragraph:

Shortly after the close of the war, I learned an invaluable lesson one night in London. I was manager at the time for Sir Ross Smith. During the war, Sir Ross had been the Australian ace out in Palestine; and, shortly after peace was declared, he astonished the world by flying halfway around it in thirty days. No such feat had ever been attempted before. …


A few points about this paragraph:

  • “The war” refers to the First World War. When this was written, the enormous upheaval of the Second World War, the atom bomb, and the Cold War were all part of a cloudy future. People might still have thought of WWI as “the war to end all wars”.
  • “Palestine” refers to a political entity that no longer exists. At the time this book was written, it referred to the British Mandate of Palestine, which covered lands (largely) controlled by modern-day Israel and Jordan.
  • In 1919, a flight from England to Australia was not only on the frontier of possibility, and not only took about 28 days, but carried with it a 50% chance of the plane being lost, and a 20% chance of your life being lost.

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.

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