'Decoded' goes after historical mysteries

Dec 5 2010 - 3:41am

Brad Meltzer's life was changed by a 10th-grade history class.

"The teacher, Ellen Sherman, showed us a movie one day and it was about all of the conspiracy theories behind the death of John F. Kennedy. She told us not to believe everything we read," Meltzer says. "The film kicked the foundation that held up my brain so hard, it was really the moment that made me love history."

Now, Meltzer's looking to kick a few foundations himself as the host of the new History Channel series "Brad Meltzer's Decoded," which looks at big historical mysteries such as the first Presidential Codes, the hidden messages of the Statue of Liberty and the ciphers protecting the location of lost Confederate gold.

The series shows that when it comes to history, we may only know half the story. That may seem impossible with the explosion of information available through the Internet, but Meltzer says the Internet has made getting to the truth more difficult than before.

"You can do a search of the Internet and get all kinds of information. The problem is that you just don't know what is real," he says.

Meltzer's waded through so much of misinformation for this show and past projects, that even when he found facts he would find more questions. But, Meltzer loves the hunt. His passion for the past has been a driving force in almost everything he's done.

Many of the author's best-selling fiction books -- "The First Counsel," "The Millionaires," "The Zero Game" -- have featured historical storylines. Even the TV series he created, "Jack & Bobby," reflected his perspective on history that anyone can grow up to be the president.

Even his work as a comic-book writer has a historical connection. The man who penned the comics "Identity Crisis," "Justice League for America" and "Buffy" Season 8 has a theory that comic-book heroes are a mirror of what's going on in America.

"Before World War II, the main comic books were Tarzan and Flash Gordon. These were fantasies set in the jungles and the future. After the war, Superman became popular because we needed a hero, someone to protect us," Meltzer says. "That's what this show is about. It is a way of getting through so many layers of nonsense that's out there."

Meltzer knew his new series was a success even before the first show aired.

"I got an e-mail from a high school kid who said he'd just seen the commercial for the show. He said 'I love history and it's great to know there's someone out there who loves it as much as me,'aaaa" Meltzer says. "He likes how it makes history look cool."

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