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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Looking at some "agreed fables", 3 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Bad History: How We Got the Past Wrong (Hardcover)
Napoleon Bonaparte had some firm views on history, describing it as "the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon", "fables agreed upon", and, perhaps as he grew more exasperated, "a set of lies agreed upon". While much can be established as fact about the past, there is something in what he said, especially where a version of history is shaped by those with political or nationalist agendas or simply by the whims of popular writers.

"Bad History" is a readable and entertaining corrective to some of the most popular "agreed fables", often things we learned at school or from popular books, and therefore carry through life as "facts". It's aimed at the general reader, and so is perhaps too light for serious students of history, but it combines information and reading pleasure.

Why bother about such things? Well apart from the principled (respect for truth) and the realistic (the chance to be one up on others) considerations there's a very basic reason - what really happened in history is often more interesting than the commonly accepted version. And there's a bonus in understanding why that version came about, and what it tells us about people's agendas and perhaps why they write what they write.
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