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Opinion

What’s the benefit of reading history books?

As members of the human race, we all start out like Jason Bourne in the Robert Ludlum series of thrillers – all we have is a name. The past before we were born is blank and unknown. Gradually we piece together what the dickens happened and how on earth we got to this point.

Jason Bourne did it by running around Europe with a gun and a ridiculous array of special abilities.

We do it by reading history books.

Categories
Opinion

Personality in popular history

This post is a rumination on the pitfalls and promises of focussing a history book too much on personality… or not at all. Along the way I will touch upon the toilet habits of the first president of the China, the ancient secret to a healthy life, and the views of a talking mouse…

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2020 8. All time periods ★★★★☆ Europe North America Reviews

Past Mistakes

★★★★☆ (2020)
Close your eyes and conjure up an image of Christopher Columbus… Did you do it? What did you see? If you are anything like me you will envisage a cheerful little fellow wearing a captains hat, pantaloons and buckled shoes…

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Opinion

Trauma or nostalgia? What does history mean in the USA 🇺🇸 and the UK 🇬🇧?

History can mean different things to different people. How is my UK perspective on the subject different from a United Statesian’s for example? What is the best way to study this difference? And why should we care?

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1. Contemporary 1997 2. Late Modern ★★★★☆ Europe Reviews

In Defence of History

★★★★☆ (1997)
I have never knowingly met a post-modernist. Perhaps I have been going to the wrong parties – back in the days when I went to parties. I am keen to meet one. If you are one or can introduce one get in touch.

The reason that I am so interested to make this acquaintance is…

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Opinion

Why new history books? What’s wrong with the old ones?

“Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” George Orwell, agreeing with me that new history books are important, in his recent book 1984 On this site we try to find, read and review new history books (or mostly new ones – see FAQ). But […]

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1961 2. Late Modern ★★★★★ Europe Reviews

What is History?

★★★★★ (1961)
There is something about the theory of history or historiography – ie how and why the study of history is conducted – that can inflame passions among professional historians. Seemingly mild mannered individuals can become enraged, and previously impersonal prose becomes peppered with personal insults.

Categories
Opinion

If history is wrong, does it matter?

“..at the end, Garder [the last Norse settlement in Greenland] was like an overcrowded lifeboat… famine and associated disease would have caused a breakdown of respect for authority… starving people would have poured into Gardar… slaughtering the last cattle and sheet… eating the dogs and newborn livestock…” Jared Diamond, Collapse So writes Jared Diamond on […]