oops, apols for typos - puppy jumped on keyboard! I meant to add the impact of history on Hollywood and on social attitudes. During the 20th century, most of the blockbusters were religious movies. The impact of a Catholic-inspired code of practice meant that other movies were constrained in what they could depict. The 1963 version of Cleopatra includes her child by Caesar. The 1934 version does not - the depiction of a child born out of wedlock was not allowed (in case it encouraged people to think adultery was acceptable). The 1934 version has Cleo as a dipsy-girlie queen big on sex as a political lever - this was only allowed because she dies at the end, so morality was satisfied. The 1963 Cleo is a semi-intellectual stateswoman with a vision of one world living in peace (reflecting the UN mission, which was a relatively novel idea at the time). In actual history, the events took place over 17y, but in the movies, neither Cleo ages a day! You can see the films on YouTube. Hollywood films are just entertainment on one level, but if you look back you'll see a history of social attitudes and how they change. Every nation's movies reflect changing social attitudes, and they vary by country of course - but a movie which does not reflect local attitudes will not sell well (Cleo did not go down well with the Italians) and whilst Cleo reflects changes in attitudes towards women, you could not expect it to sell in a country which does not feel that women are as valuable as men. Lastly, you may think that ancient history is dead. Wrong. There are people all over the world who continue to live in the same way their ancestors did 3000+y ago - look closely at the people living in rural Siberia, the banks of the Nile, or tribes like the Dogon in Mali. They are living history. Groups like the Amish have elected to halt time and live in one particular way. Groups like the Taliban want to take (force) people back to Quranic times. In both cases, they do so because a religious text appears to fit better with life if you move life to an older setting. The Taliban kill smart people, because they have learned from history - in a society which has few books, their history is in their heads. Hitler burned books to eliminate alternative ideas, but the Taliban have to 'burn' heads - for the same reason mediaeval Catholics burned heretics. History is everywhere and affects everyone; we ignore it at our peril..
I was trying to think what 'applied history' might look like, but it's a spectrum. At one end you have people like diplomats mediating peace agreements or containing "excitable" nations from going nuclear - you cannot work with a foreign political group unless you understand how history has brought them to their present position. Groups like Greenpeace are more effective if they can help people see a link between historical actions (e.g. the industrial revolution) and present/future problems. You cannot understand why so many people follow one religion instead of another unless you study their history, or why Santa currently wears a red coat and white beard, or why a mediaeval manuscript like the Aberdeen Bestiary depicts God as young man of Adam's age clothes in red and blue - whereas most people currently think of God as very old (why would a god age?) in white. History is full of patterns, not just about war, but about human behaviour. Those patterns of behaviour are important for administrators today, if you're proposing a change that impacts one cultural group more than another, you need to be sensitive to their feelings or you've a riot to pay for. Such patterns are important to marketing folk too. Your campaign will fail if you ignore the history of the target group and the things it values. School clubs and teams have history. Wins are celebrated and build upon, failures are learned from and training put in place to avoid past mistakes. Folk tend not to like failures being talked about. If you didn't know a team's history, you could easily cause embarrasment by raising a subject they'd rather forget. We tend to think of history as in really old stuff, but in reality we're making it all the time. It's like knitting a sweater, the rows you knitted last week are interesting in themselves, and each row records a pattern (even if it's only a plain one), but the more recent rows are also interesting and just as relevant as the old.
Unfortunately, a large part of the world has only limited access to even their own recent history, either because the info is controlled or because of illiteracy or limited availability of teachers who can understand and interpret. Those who are unable to absorb the importance of historical events tend to be vulnerable to the control of people who prefer their own versions of history. Even in the US and Europe, you don't have to look far to spot someone distorting history for their own advantage. If you don't know about the history they're telling you about, you may fall for their story. Spam is mostly obvious, but some is sophisticated, believable, and shaped by politicians, social leaders and lobbyists. Unless you know more about the real history of ideas and information, you won't know who to believe. We live in times where many people seek control over others. The ignorant are their victims.
Here's a case in point - compare what you heard from Bush, Rumsfeld and the Republicans before and during the Iraq saga. You might not think it important for a President to understand history, geography or the social makeup of another country. When his advisers don't understand either, trillions of taxpayers money is spent creating a problem that will continue to bite America for at least a generation. Read 'Assessing America's 'imperial adventure' in Iraq' by John Simpson on the BBC co uk news page. Compare these observations with what you may have heard people saying over the last 7.5y. Illuminating.
The past, acting through the present, creates the future. We have no identity or purpose without an understanding of our history and the histories of the other cultures and life-forms we share this little planet with. It's a far greater story than you'll get from any one book. I thought it was dull when at school tho, cos u only get to look at a few pieces of the jigsaw....
There is no "reason" for history - it's there whether we want it or not, but if you're asking what the reason for learning it, it's to try and prevent repeating it.
It tells you about you. Also, to learn about past mistakes to prevent repeating it, as Colleen said.
So u learn from history's past mistakes to make sure those failures are not repeated
So we can prevent the past from coming back again e.g. the holocaust.