Mistakes That Changed the World

by: Daniel Nardini

Lately I have been reading a book entitled 100 Mistakes That Changed History by Bill Fawcett. The book is filled with major historical events that changed history. The book tells how leaders, powerful rulers, and even ordinary people were in the wrong place at the wrong time and made such goofs that they altered history. As the author said in his introduction, history is in fact not the deliberate plans laid by those in power but more often than not how those plans go awry and how these mistakes change the order of things.

These mistakes brought the collapse of empires, crashed economies, and changed the face of so many regions of the world. One excellent example of a major goof was by the Roman Emperor Diocletion. Instead of trying to reform the machinery of his realm, Diocletion divided his empire in two and created an Eastern Roman Empire and a Western Roman Empire in 329 A.D. Diocletion thought it would help stabilize the vast territories ruled by the empire. Instead it brought about civil war and a permanent split in Europe that would last for the next 1,000 years.

An example of a really major goof for our times is the virtual economic meltdown and beginning of the Great Recession in 2008. Even now we live in its shadow, and the author reasons that the first of the Baby Boom generation (1945-1961) will especially suffer from the affects of the Great Recession. We all hope this will not be the case, but the future is very uncertain. Fawcett says that the Great Recession is the result of the politicians not learning the lessons from the Great Depression (1929-1940) and thus eliminated the regulatory safeguards that could have prevented this economic upheaval. The rest as we say is history.

But not all mistakes were bad or disastrous. One mistake that would be beneficial was in 1928. A scientist named Dr. Alexander Fleming had accidentally left an exposed dish of flu virus out. When he returned the next day he noticed a mold that had killed the flu virus. He learned that this mold, when grown in bread, produced an antibiotic called penicillin. Penicillin became the first antibiotic that would be used to fight dangerous infections that there was no medications for before that. This accidental discovery has saved tens of millions of lives in the decades since.

Fawcett’s book is a revelation of how mistakes and goofs have altered the world we live in, and shows that even the most powerful are prone to truly stupid errors. I recommend reading 100 Mistakes That Changed History.

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