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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good and thought provoking series of lectures
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...
Published on 21 Oct. 2012 by Girl with a book

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Superficial, condescending and glib
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...
Published 7 months ago by D. Halliday


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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 review is from: The Uses and Abuses of History (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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lesson in writing about history, 28 April 2013
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This review is from: The Uses and Abuses of History (Paperback)
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
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D. Halliday (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Uses and Abuses of History (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Anyone with an interest in history should read this book, 20 Jan. 2011
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This review is from: The Uses and Abuses of History (Paperback)
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
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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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars About the way history is used, 3 Dec. 2013
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T. L. Knight "Camel" (Guildford, UK) - See all my reviews
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History, 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very thoughtful and provoking book, 21 Nov. 2014
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It gives a clear and effective layout of history in it's past, present and future, it's shame it was not long enough but a great book to read. 😀🌿🌐
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Useful, 4 July 2012
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R. Iain F. Brown (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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I found this book easily readable and interesting with many useful quotes from previous philosophers of history. But I missed the grand sweep and the impressive mass of painstakingly gathered evidence of Collingwood. One cannot expect every book of to be a literary and philosophical giant so this one is a good second and worth reading.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I recommend whitewashing the second edition's cover as a clue to its content (beware the author's abuse of history!), 9 Sept. 2014
This review is from: The Uses and Abuses of History (Paperback)
Margaret Macmillan's book on the uses and abuses of history reminds the reader constantly of two important lessons (among others). The first of these is that one must keep in mind that those given a forum to assert a version of history are often inclined to shape that account according to their intentions, inclinations, and so forth. The second is that we should be guarded against accepting a particular version of history, no matter how well integrated it appears to be with culturally reproduced notions of how things unfolded and how we came to be as we are.

By these two standards then, Macmillan has fallen badly short. Her whitewashed account of official history in the way its most celebrated characters would like it to be told (save the unambiguously unsalvageable ones, such as Bush and Blair) paints an almost utopian image of a world in which governments make decisions based on a benevolent approach to exercise of power, where tough calls often have to be made and some may inadvertently suffer as a result, but certainly without any whispers of the undue influence of corporations, philanthropists and the like. The true function of the IMF and World Bank is only fleetingly considered - and its intentional design not even that - in the paragraph:
"...the Allies, with the Soviet Union's grudging acquiescence, created the economic institutions known collectively as the Bretton Woods system. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the International Trade Organisation... were designed to provide stability to the world's economy and to encourage free trade among nations. How much difference these all made to the international order after 1945 will always be a matter of debate, but the world did not get a repeat of the 1930s."

Macmillan's blinkered approach to those who would bend the economic system according to their own ends is repeated on the same page, when she states with breathtaking innocence/naivete/gullibility in relation to the economic crisis of 2008 that "It was perhaps fortunate too that Benjamin S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve... is an expert on the Depression. He has written and lectured extensively on what he sees as its lessons." I wonder if he ever did find out what happened to those trillions of dollars that went missing back then? Maybe he just needs a good historian willing to ask a few awkward questions in order to find them...
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The Uses and Abuses of History
The Uses and Abuses of History by Professor Margaret MacMillan (Paperback - 1 April 2010)
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