I love history... I enjoy reading history books, and biographies of historical figures, as well as personal accounts of people living during a particular time period- Samuel Pepys, Josephus... one of the most interesting books I ever read was simply criminal court records from Medieval London, which gave a fascinating view of life at the time- sometimes grim, sometimes tragic, and sometimes just plain funny. Hmm...maybe I like history so much because I'm nosy.
Sienkiewicz includes an amazing amount of detail about life at that time, which I'm finding both fascinating and repellent- but more on that at a later date.
This brings me back- in a very roundabout way- to my original point, which is that I think Kipling was right: human beings love stories, and will remember things in them better than they will just a dry repetition of facts, if only because they'll pay more attention to a well-told tale. This was an idea that the National Film Board of Canada ran with, in hopes of imparting some knowledge to Canadian kids parked in front of T.V. screens. They made a series of vignettes about events in Canadian history, mostly animated, and often humorous, which were a couple of minutes long, and would play between shows like commercials. I'm not sure they impelled any kids to further historical scholarship, but they were memorable... Lady Francis Simpson and her piano... Bill Miner and his failed train robbery... they stick in the memory. Later these animated shorts gave way to Canadian Heritage Minutes, live action dramatizations of pieces of history that serve the same purpose, but tend to be more earnest than the tongue-in-cheek shorts were... which isn't always a bad thing. I'm going to post two YouTube videos below: one of my favourite vignettes, and one of the Canadian Heritage Moments. Enjoy.