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The human cost of war: Beyond the statistics

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All too often historians get caught up in the facts and details of an event or period. Lists and statistics and dates overwhelm the human story which lies underneath. The use of oral history can help to keep the human element vibrant and at the same time make the factual components more relevant and intriguing to the modern young student. While true oral history has pitfalls as one is utilizing imperfect, fallible human recollection, such stories remain powerful and meaningful for the very reason of being the recollections of people – complete with depth of personality each of us brings to our experiences. The use of historical tales can retell an old story by adding characterization to give the modern student someone to connect with and perhaps make the factual story easier to understand and thus make use of when synthesizing events of history and how they interact over time. Examples are given to provide emphasis on the importance of daily experiences of the everyday person to the entirety of the historical tale. We matter as we are the history we create.
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Keywords: Iraq; history; oral history; primary source; public school education; storytelling

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University High School

Publication date: September 1, 2013

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  • The International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies is a new peer-reviewed, tri- annual, academic publication devoted to the study of modern Iraq. In recognition of Iraq's increasingly important position on the world stage, the time is right for a new journal dedicated to scholarly engagement with the country.
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