Allow me to introduce myself and my humble corner of the internet. I’m Jess, history nerd and amateur writer. For the last five years I’ve been studying the early half of the 20th century, the Second World War in particular, and in doing so I learned that a lot of people want to know more than what their history class taught them.

It started about two years ago, when I was watching the documentary miniseries The World Wars with my parents. When we got to the episode about Pearl Harbor, my mom turned to me during the commercial break and asked me why, exactly, Japan attacked the US in the first place. I thought I could answer it, being the resident history nerd and japanophile, but I realized that my knowledge fell a bit short of satisfactory. So I set about researching the topic until I had basically written an essay about it. That was the first of several. I started picking topics, researching, and writing them out in an essay-like format to help solidify the knowledge in my mind. I was about three or four deep before I hit on the idea of starting a blog. But I’m a bit timid about putting my work out for the public to see, so it took me a very long time to get started.

So by now you’re probably wondering about the title. It’s a play on the phrase “close only counts with horseshoes and hand grenades,” and an old poem about a horseshoe nail. The poem was about how small things can change history: a horse loses a shoe to a loose nail, throws its rider, who was carrying an important message, which causes a major battle to be lost, and the kingdom to fall. All because of a horseshoe nail. History is like that. It’s an endless chain of cause and effect, constantly twisting in unexpected directions for unexpected reasons. One little nail can change everything.

This blog won’t just be about the stuff you learned in history class, and it won’t be written in an “academic” tone. You can expect lots of weirdness, interesting people, occasional book and film reviews, and even a bit of music. (And some strong language. Fair warning.) History is so much bigger than a dusty textbook. I think it should be fun. The sheer size of it can be overwhelming, but that’s what makes it so great. You’ll never run out of things to learn. That’s what this blog is for: it’s a place to share my explorations. If I can teach someone else a thing or two, all the better!

Anyway, since my first essays were about Pearl Harbor, that’s where this blog will start off as well. I’ll post the first one, which is about the context and leadup to the attack, early next week; the second one, about the actual event and why we survived it, will be posted on December 7 (the 75th anniversary). After that, who knows? You’re welcome to leave suggestions, because I have so many possible topics that I don’t know where to start. Drop your ideas here in the comments, or visit me on my Tumblr. See y’all later.


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