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The Uses and Abuses of History [Kindle Edition]

Professor Margaret MacMillan
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The past is capricious enough to support every stance - no matter how questionable. In 2002, the Bush administration decided that dealing with Saddam Hussein was like appeasing Hitler or Mussolini, and promptly invaded Iraq. Were they wrong to look to history for guidance? No; their mistake was to exaggerate one of its lessons while suppressing others of equal importance. History is often hijacked through suppression, manipulation, and, sometimes, even outright deception. MacMillan's book is packed full of examples of the abuses of history. In response, she urges us to treat the past with care and respect.

Product Description


No history lover should fail to digest the lessons of this short but brilliant book. (Simon Heffer Daily Telegraph)

A magnificent book, wise and timely (Tribune)

This is history used as its own best argument (Toronto Sun)

Swift and bracing (Independent 2010-04-23)

Book Description

'MacMillan has written illuminatingly on topics as diverse as the 1919 Paris peace conference and Nixon in China. Perhaps more unusually she is also a gifted writer, and her account of the various uses of history is wonderfully accessible. Her message - that we cannot help invoking the past when we try to shape the future, but should use it with due caution and humility - is a salutary one for politicians' John Gray

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 914 KB
  • Print Length: 212 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (9 Dec. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004DL0OCQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #179,062 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good and thought provoking series of lectures 21 Oct. 2012
This book is based on a series of lectures given by the author at a Canadian university. It's topical and thought provoking and if you're looking for a good introduction as to why history matters, is a good starting point. It's concise, well written, and has some really good examples of history being reinvented to shape the present, or alternatively of being ignored or misunderstood at great cost. I was astonished to find that the author's book on the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 ("Peacemakers") couldn't originally find a publisher because at the time it wasn't considered to be a fashionable area of history! This book sheds some light on how those trends come and go. Well worth a read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lesson in writing about history 28 April 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A truly great book about how history works, exposing the many ways it is used and interpreted by those in control.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Superficial, condescending and glib 17 Nov. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was hoping for a serious book on historiography, instead, this turned out to be very superficial. If you don't know much about history, perhaps you could learn something but if you already have a rough idea what history is all about, this book covers too much material too broadly to say anything really interesting. The style is condescending and glib. The author's political prejudices are all too obvious. She seems far too credulous about the motivations behind some recent contemporary political events such as the Iraq war and the handling of the credit collapse.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Sets out clearly and concisely with comprehensive examples how "history" (real, imagined or both) is used to create, shape and reinforce national identity - for better or worse. And the political, social and military consequences of failures to recognise and understand this, and to respond appropriately.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Uses and Abuses of History 20 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"... that a citizenry that cannot begin to put the present into context, that has so little knowledge of the past, can too easily be fed stories by those who claim to speak with the knowledge of history and its lessons."
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars About the way history is used 3 Dec. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In a recent review of the book Catastrophe by Max Hastings I said that after the horrors of WW1 how could WW2 have been allowed to happen. Professor Macmillan's book provides the answer which alone makes it worth reading. It is a wide ranging review of the way history is seen and used inevitably with some emphasis on Canada, Macmillan's home country. Easy to read and well worth the effort.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History 6 Mar. 2014
By pam
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very readable.gave a good insight into how political history can be. How we cannot assume everyone thinks the same way we do.
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