What is the “one-dot theory” of history? In his review of W. Joseph Campbell’s 1995: The Year the Future Began, Louis Menand explains that “the most enjoyable histories to read (and, probably, to write) are ‘the x that changed the world’ books. These are essentially one-dot explanations. They try to make the course of human events turn on a single phenomenon or a single year.” While enjoyable, he rightly points out that these narratives are “not completely persuasive” in convincing us that history has turned on this “x” (in this case: 1995). History is vastly complex and “all dots have dots of their own.”
But for all the flaws of “one-dot theories” they can be informative and entertaining. On that note, Menard’s review of 1995 was favorable. For me personally 1995 was a traumatic year and I’d rather forget it. But looking beyond my own troubles I can see that many events of note happened that year that are worthy of our attention, even if they are unpleasant.
We tend to look to the 1990s as a good decade, but a review of the history says otherwise: the Oklahoma City bombing, the O.J. Simpson trial, genocide in Rwanda and Bosnia, the siege in Waco, Black Hawk down in Somalia, etc.
To read Menand’s entire review go here: