Bad History: How We Got the Past Wrong Hardcover – 8 Sep 2011
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Sorting the facts from the historical fiction, Bad History exposes the falsehoods that have wrongly influenced our understanding of world history. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Emma Marriott is a freelance writer and editor whose previous works for Michael O'Mara Books include I Used to Know That: History, Bad History: How We Got the Past Wrong and The History of the World in Bite-sized Chunks.
Top customer reviews
This is the type of thing I was hoping to get, but this is somewhat dumbed down and is aimed more at the `historical virgin' than anyone seeking very much enlightenment. So we find out that the old American `Wild West' was not that `wild' based on recorded crime figures; however records were not always kept. Australia was not established as a penal colony; well no it was only after US independence and a failed attempt to set one up in Africa that Australia was chosen. Mussolini did not make the trains run on time and Petain did collaborate with the occupying German forces through his offices in Vichy France.
There is a load more besides and the book of itself is really well written and effortlessly accessible. There are some thirty one different subjects that deal with things from the Irishness of St. Patrick to the real victors in Indochina after WW2. I would have liked to know more and to have greater depth into all of the arguments. However, that was never the intention of this book and to criticise Marriott for such is both churlish and un-gallant. What this does do is introduce a breadth of topics that are too often misrepresented and point us in the right direction. I particularly liked the reference to Abraham Lincoln not having a Civil War to free the slaves - something which I am sick of being misrepresented. There are also some nice snippets that were new to me including a couple about Cecil Rhodes.
Where this piece of well written research does score highly is in the bibliography as it points to all the reference texts that you can take up for the more in depth further reading. Any of the areas covered are all justified by previous works that are clearly referenced and that is where the depth will be found. So I went from being almost dismissive of this book to thinking it really not a bad effort at all. That is so long as you appreciate it for what it is, a sign post for the wider topics, and sorry there is no mention of the Zulu war I just used that as an example.
It is a coffee table book and a number of my friends have found something from just dipping in, so I hope you can too.
Trite, superficial pap, made me believe that maybe Mussolini did make the trains run on time.
The book covers no particular theme, just a hotchpotch of well known assumptions. Investigation of each claim takes no more than a couple of pages, so it's a great book to while away a few minutes here and there (although in some cases the essays did feel too short to justify the claims they make). To sit and read the book cover to cover took less than an evening.
I'd hoped the upbeat writing and bite-size chapters would make the book interesting to my teenager relatives, progressing from Horrible Histories style historical learning, but the topics in the book were completely unengaging for them (with the notable exception of the gladiator one!).
A perfectly good little book for a few minutes distraction, but not one to stay long-term on the bookshelf.
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