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The Uses and Abuses of History Paperback – 1 Apr 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184668210X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846682100
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Peter H. Jackson on 20 Jan 2011
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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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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Girl with a book on 21 Oct 2012
Format: Paperback
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David Hough on 28 April 2013
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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 By Ken Padmore on 20 May 2014
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"... 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By pam on 6 Mar 2014
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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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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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By T. L. Knight on 3 Dec 2013
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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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