New York Times bestselling author visits THHS

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On Wednesday February 13, American historian and New York Times Bestselling author Kenneth C. Davis visited Townsend Harris.

Davis is best known for publishing his Don’t Know Much About History series, which spent 35 consecutive weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and the acclaimed In the Shadow of Liberty, which was chosen by The Washington Post as one of the Best Books for Adults in 2016. His love and passion for history is evident in his work as he writes about notable historic events in an easy-to-follow and comprehensive manner for young adults.  

English teacher Ms. Yan and librarian Ms. Laverde invited Davis to speak to students from Ms. Yan’s Extraordinary Endurance/Survival selective. The visit was held in the school library during bands 8 and 9, and students were able to learn about Davis’ motivation for his most recent nonfiction book, More Deadly Than War: The Hidden History of the Spanish Flu and the First World War. The book was published in May 2018 and explores the connection between the Spanish Influenza and World War I. Davis gave students a preview of the book by describing the rampant nature of the Spanish flu and how it was able to impact millions of World War I soldiers and many others during the era.

“It recently was the anniversary of the Spanish flu and of World War I, and because it is such an important anniversary, I thought it was a good opportunity to talk about its significance,” he explained. “I wrote this book really to explain the deep connections between a war and a devastating epidemic. Medicine, sickness, and science go hand in hand with history, but we are not usually taught that.”

Students who were present during the author visit were able to learn and reflect upon Davis’ insight. Sophomore Katie Sie said, “[The visit] taught me that there is more to this world than what we learn in school. As he spoke about his career, it was evident that his passion for history fueled his curiosity about history.”

Sophomore Jasmine Chang said, “Mr. Davis was a very inspiring person as he talked about the fact that learning about what he was passionate and truly interested in drove him forward, and that life works in unpredictable ways.

Relating this back to students’ lives, Davis did not leave before assuring students about their futures and lives after high school. “Really focus on the things you love to do,” he said. “It may not turn into a career but it will give you personal satisfaction, [and] that is all you need.”