When I think back on the version of history that I learned from attending school and from reading I can't decide which I find more amazing; the conceit of Europeans to believe that they were doing things first or that supposedly rational and intelligent people accepted those "facts" without question. Even as they traversed the globe discovering new people and evidence of ancient civilizations in countless places European explorers, and subsequently historians, remained unshakeable in their belief that nobody before them could have possibly been capable of doing the things they did.
Even in the twentieth century when Thor Heyerdahl was able to prove, by successfully recreating their voyages, that earlier cultures had accomplished many of those feats long before Europeans, people were, and are, still reluctant to accept that we weren't the first. Unfortunately quite a bit of that reluctance is based on the attitude that before contact with us, everybody were just savages who couldn't possibly have been sophisticated enough to build boats sturdy enough for ocean travel, let alone navigate them across the ocean and back again.
It was during the height of Britain's colonial rule in the 19th century that the term "White Man's Burden" was coined. The great burden that the Empire shouldered in those days was the task of bringing the light of "civilization" to all those poor misguided dark skinned people around the world. Of course you couldn't expect miracles, but it was at least hoped they could be taught English and to put pants on every so often, especially in mixed company.
In his most recent release, and his first for young audiences, Nation, published by Harper Collins, Terry Practchett has not only created a wonderful tale of self-discovery, he rebukes those histories of our childhood that had us believing nothing of importance happened before the white man appeared on the face of the earth. With a remote South Pacific archipelago as its location, and an alternate 19th century as the reality, Nation is the story of two young people from vastly different backgrounds thrown together by nature and what they experience together.