Read The Uses and Abuses of History by Margaret MacMillan Online


History is useful when it is used properly: to understand why we and those we must deal with think and react in certain ways. It can offer examples to inform our decisions and guesses about the consequences of our actions. But we should be wary of looking to history for dogmatic lessons.We should distrust those who abuse history when they call on it to justify unreasonableHistory is useful when it is used properly: to understand why we and those we must deal with think and react in certain ways. It can offer examples to inform our decisions and guesses about the consequences of our actions. But we should be wary of looking to history for dogmatic lessons.We should distrust those who abuse history when they call on it to justify unreasonable claims to land, for example, or restitution. MacMillan illustrates how dangerous history can be in the hands of nationalistic or religious or ethnic leaders who use it to foster a sense of grievance and a desire for revenge.  ...

Title : The Uses and Abuses of History
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ISBN : 9780670066803
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 208 Pages
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The Uses and Abuses of History Reviews

  • Paul Bryant
    2019-05-04 19:47

    Well, 170 pages full of good examples of the fact that history is very FRAUGHT - you can't say a thing without someone being mortally offended. Just like most family get-togethers! MM says that "professional historians have largely been abandoning the field to amateurs" - that's a bold thing to say. Does she name these phonies? No. She says that the professionals have been dragged into inscrutable theorising, in the same way the semioticians and the post-modernists dragged English literature into the coded darkness of structuralism back in the swingin' 80s. "Historians long to sound like their peers in social sciences" - poor kids. (Cheer up Cinders, you shall go to the post-modernist ball!) So anyway because of this introspection some bad boys have run off with history and broken some windows with it, and picked locks with it, and frightened the horses in general. And they won't give it back. They stand there on the other side of the road and make sweeping generalisations and racist assumptions and they gather round them smaller boys and tell them nationalist myths. As an example of this, consider the exhibit in Canada's national War Museum. There was a plaque describing the Allied carpet-bombing campaign of 1942 in which German cities and towns were targeted. The plaque said "The value and morality of the strategic bombing offensive against Germany remains bitterly contested." This was translated by the Canadian press like this : "Hey, guys, especially you veterans, did you know that the War Museum is going round saying that the bombing campaign was immoral and ineffective?" So, Airforce veterans were rounded up for comment. They were mortally offended. Historians received emails which said "The veterans have done more for our country and way of life than you ever will. Since they were there, and you were not, it stands to reason they should have the final say as to whether this plaque is fair or not." MM remarks plaintively :The idea that those who actually took part in great events or lived through particular times have a superior understanding to those who come later is a deeply-held yet wrong-headed one. Absolutely. Every nation has its myths and dynamite won't dispel them. Britain believes its Empire benevolently bestowed the pacific values of democracy and enlightenment to the benighted areas of the globe, that the natives hosanna'd our arrival and wept at our departure. Americans believe their nation was conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. (It might be so dedicated now but I can't see that it was back then.) Israelis appear to believe that the Palestinians voluntarily fled to Jordan and Lebanon in 1948. It's unfair to mention these examples because everyone's at it. Who owns history? The newspapers, and the shoutier types of politicians, would be my guess. Certainly not the historians, who have this horrible tedious habit of pointing out that it was never as simple as what you thought, it was always much more complicated, compromised and disagreeable. They're never going to get thanked for that.

  • BillKerwin
    2019-05-18 02:43

    This is an interesting collection of lectures that discuss the way in which the knowledge of history--or the lack of it--may affect our ways of acting in the present. I particularly liked McMillan's explanation of why eyewitnesses have no particular advantage--let alone a precedence--in historical interpretation, and her exploration of the importance of particular parochial versions of history in the forming of nations and the fomenting of nationalistic attitudes. Each of her arguments is illuminated by interesting historical anecdotes. My favorite: how the Carter administration in 1979 became indignant over the placing of Soviet troops in Cuba, not realizing that these troops had never been withdrawn after the missile crisis in 1962 and had remained in Cuba all that time.

  • Riku Sayuj
    2019-04-25 20:29

    Humility is one of the most useful lessons that the past can provide the present.As John Carey, the distinguished British man of letters, puts it, “One of history’s most useful tasks is to bring home to us how keenly, honestly and painfully, past generations pursued aims that now seem to us wrong or disgraceful.”If the study of history does nothing more than teach us humility and scepticism, then it has done something useful. We must continue to examine our own assumptions and those of others and ask, where’s the evidence? Or, is there another explanation? We should be wary of grand claims in history’s name or those who claim to have uncovered the truth once and for all. In the end, my only advice is use it, enjoy it, but always handle history with care.MacMillan does not try to do much, and what she attempts to do is done pretty monotonously. A decent evening read, for a book based on a lecture.

  • Eric_W
    2019-05-11 02:25

    This book is especially timely given the proposed changes to history textbooks by the Texas Commission on Education that would increase the visibility of Newt Gingrinch and Phyllis Schlafly at the expense of Thurgood Marshall. (This problem is not new. Frances Fitzgerald wrote a terrific book several years ago about the problem of textbooks in America Revised.)Nations use history as a way to inspire nationalistic feeling. They do so by selectively inculcating "lessons" gleaned from the past to illustrate some political agenda. No one was better at this than George (I wanna be King) W Bush and Dick (I really am one) Cheney. Both often cited the experience of WW II as justification for their actions in Iraq. They confused the experience of defeated peoples, e.g. Germany and Japan whose societies were rebuilt from the bottom up whether they liked it or not (they could be "treated with arbitrary ruthlessness,") with that of liberated nations (Greece, Yugoslavia, Belgium and Italy which were allowed, with mixed success and often considerable violence and conflict, to rebuild their own societies the way they thought they wanted.) "George W. Bush liked to compare the challenge he faced from America's foes with that which Winston Churchill confronted seventy years ago. Vice President Dick Cheney once said that global terrorism represents the gravest threat Western civilization has ever faced. Such assertions exposed the awesome magnitude of both men's ignorance." But it's all nations who engage in such dis-ingenuousness. She cites examples from Israel, Hindus in India, China, Ireland, Britain, and even Canada.Americans (see History Wars: The Enola Gay and Other Battles for the American Past) are not the only ones who suffer from an overdeveloped sense of righteousness when it comes to their actions in wartime. Apparently, a firestorm of protest broke out in Canada in 1992 following the CBC documentary The Valour and the Horror which discussed the effectiveness and morality of strategic bombing. Some 20,000 Canadian airmen had participated and about 50% died. Veterans organizations were outraged that the issue could be framed in anything other than "black and white, good and evil." MacMillan was asked to testify and said, "History should not be written to make the present generation feel good but to remind us that human affairs are complicated." "The idea that those who actually took part in great events or lived through particular times have a superior understanding to those who come later is a deeply held yet wrong-headed one," as Charles Pellegrino is learning to his chagrin. National myths are too cherished to be troubled by facts. I doubt if southerners will ever discontinue viewing the Civil War as anything other than the War of Northern Aggression.China, Japan, Israel, Russia, all have whitewashed views of their more sordid actions. Macmillan describes Hindu disregard for Muslim contributions to Indian history. And we are all familiar with Mormon attempts to rewrite their forbearer's actions in a more favorable light. MacMillan rightly notes that those present at an event do not necessarily have an accurate view of what happened and the recent travails of author Charles Pelligrino who is being pilloried for relying too much on the fictitious memory of an airman who apparently wasn't even where he said he was should make all of us a little wary of anecdotal accounts. (The Last Train from Hiroshima: The Survivors Look Back - see"Historians, however are not scientists, and if they do not make what they are doing intelligible to the public, then others will rush in to fill the void. Political and other leaders too often get away with misusing or abusing history for their own ends because the rest of us do not know enough to challenge them. " Susan Jacoby tells the story of visiting a bar in New York the evening of 9/11. One fellow says to another that the WTC attack was like Pearl Harbor. "What was Pearl Harbor?" the other asked. "It was when the Vietnamese dropped some bombs in a harbor and started the Vietnam War," was the reply. MacMillan argues that such woeful ignorance has much more serious repercussions than just a display of stupidity. The Bush administration was using an attack by a few idealists and fundamentalists to justify a war against a state and a continuing -- some might argue infinite --war against a tactic and idea.Sometimes, institutional memory fails us and the example she cites was totally unfamiliar to me. In 1979, rumors circulated that the Soviets had begun stationing troops in Cuba. Tensions increased and people recalled the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Kennedy had secretly agreed not to invade Cuba if the missiles were withdrawn and now it appeared the Soviets were violently an agreement not to station troops there again. The intelligence services were asked to investigate and sure enough, there were Russkies in Cuba. What the intelligence services had forgotten was that Kennedy had backed down on his initial demand that the Soviets remove all Russian troops from the island. Tensions and rhetoric increased in volume and disaster was averted on by Dobrynin's shuttle diplomacy between the two countries assuring the Russians that it was an honest mistake and that the U.S. had simply forgotten the earlier agreement. Cyrus Vance wrote that the incident as "Appalling. Awareness of the Soviet ground force units had faded from the institutional memories of the intelligence agencies."In another example of institutional myopia, T.X. Hames, a Marine colonel wrote a book analyzing counter-insurgency tactics learned from the Vietnam War, an episode the military preferred to leave forgotten. Unable to find a publisher, because no one was interested, his book The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century was finally released in 2004 when the United States was having to relearn the difficult lessons of insurgency in Iraq. The last few decades have seen a rise in the need of nations to apologize for actions committed by governments during wartime that, in retrospect, appear to be unfeeling and/or discriminatory. Should we pay reparations to the ancestors of slaves or Native American tribes. Is it necessary to review decisions made in the context of the time? Japanese and Germans were interned or had property confiscated even they they might have been generations removed from their "homeland." Given that people at the time did not know that the Axis Powers would lose, was the paranoia justified? If we don't have accurate historical review, can we avoid making the same mistakes in the future?For several of my comments I am indebted to an excellent review of Macmillan's fascinating book written by Max Hastings, ironically one of those "amateur" historians, in the March 11, 2010 New York Review of Books. (It's worth the $3 and can be read here

  • Sesana
    2019-05-14 21:36

    Mislead by the cover copy. Reading the book jacket would lead you to believe that this will be a sort of history of who has misquoted and misused history, and how and to what purposes. There is a bit of that, a very little bit. But it's really more of a lengthy essay on the very general whys and hows of what makes people try to use history to their own ends. There are examples, sure, but not nearly as many as I had thought there would be. It's still very well-written, and interesting, and I thought the reasoning was pretty solid. Still, the book that I thought I was going to read would have been far more interesting.

  • Matt
    2019-05-17 00:34

    MacMillan writes what can best be called a soapbox on history and its common misconceptions, from her perspective as a 'professional' historian and academic. Some readers may label the book as the historian's manifesto against the ongoing bastardisation of the subject and how its abuse can (obviously) completely change the future. MacMillan examines the various means by which history can be used as a tool and how those uses can, and commonly are, used to push a specific view. While the adage states that history is controlled by the victors, MacMillan makes mention that history can also be skewed by those in positions of power to shape a future based on a past that has never taken place. Some, like the Community Chinese, refuse to acknowledge any history other than that which they sanction. Others, like Bush 43, will pluck shattered pieces of history together to suit them and create an ill-fitting puzzle to support their antics. Throughout the tome, she examines some of the ways that history has caused battles between those who LIVED it and those who EXPLAINED it for others. Can neither be wrong, when they disagree? History, that seemingly neutral social science, can be as controversial as it is useful for the general public, though anyone who does not use an objective and analytical brain when reading it will fall down the rabbit hole and presume they are well-informed. Just as the NRA spits out their rubbish about the Second Amendment, there will be those who say that history does not shape people, people shape people. Alas, as MacMillan tries to posit throughout, history in the wrong hands will do much more harm than good, though a single voice in the wilderness cannot stop it all. A must-read for those who enjoy taking a step back and thinking from another perspective. A true MacMillan gem, not to be overlooked.MacMillan is one of the key historians I have read in my adult life; her work quite varied, but always thorough. That she is Canadian and brings the Canadian flavour to this tome is simply an added bonus. As she does (where she can) often, MacMillan pulls from her previous publications to offer key examples. While I am nowhere near done her entire collection, it was nice to see this bridging, especially for a history buff such as myself. While she is not normally preachy, this book makes the case that preachy is needed, otherwise the premise is completely lost. In doing so, as a great academic will do, she supports her ideas with concrete examples and seeks to analyse them to ensure the reader clearly understands the concept. History is one of the most dangerous of the social sciences and should not be taken lightly. True, there is bias in her perspective, but also a great deal of experience that the reader should heed.Kudos, Dr. MacMillan, for offering up this wonderful piece of work. It gives all those who read it a better understanding of the weapon history can be, and should be required reading for many before they pull it from their quiver.

  • Nick Davies
    2019-05-17 01:33

    This is an interesting read, not without fault, but (despite the first half raising more queries from me as a reader than it offered answers) overall I found it more deserving of merit than deserving of criticism.MacMillan aims to define the role of history, and seeking and publicising historical knowledge gained through research, and also to explore examples of the pitfalls of misuse of historical fact/opinion by leaders and followers alike. There are plenty of examples of so-called abuses of 'history' by politicians and people seeking to promote a point of view, there are also many well-made points which would hopefully challenge the misconceptions of many a reader. The second half of the book is especially good, as it deals more with the use of history to justify nationalism and conflict, and also touches on examples of controversies when history is presented to members of the public with the complication of modern eyes viewing history with a benefit of hindsight and a deficit of the context in which actions were taken.However, I had fundamental issues with the book (esp. the first few chapters) relating to the nature of historical research. Perhaps because my background is in 'pure' sciences, I could not escape the uncertainty that the author was just relating a series of standpoints reached via historians seeking to come up with new interpretations on events from limited data and inherently flawed resources, as opposed to stating indisputable truths - a balance between 'fact' and 'interpretation' is a difficult one. By listing a large number of examples (sometimes in too little detail for my liking) where history has been misrepresented or misinterpreted by politicians, members of the public and even other historical researchers, I was left with a sense that the interpretation of history is inherently and unresolvedly flawed. Only given impossible access to all resources on an event, and with the benefit of hindsight only possible some time afterwards, could a historian (or, to avoid bias, a large consensus of historians) provide a 'true' history of that event. I was hence left with some of my questions doomed to remain unresolved.

  • Lyn Elliott
    2019-05-05 19:30

    This excellent little book is drawn from a lecture series and has the liveliness and easy flow one would expect as a result. It is certainly not a work of high theory on the nature of history or the way history should be written, rather a plea to be both wary of using it as a basis for territorial expansion, for instance, and to be aware of histories and cultures before we, for instance, embark rashly on invasion of another's territory. It is sensible, practical, uses many examples from the twentieth and twenty first centuries and should be compulsory reading for all politicians, army generals and government policy makers. Students too.

  • Anna Pearce
    2019-05-05 01:29

    “History is about remembering the past but it is also about what we choose to forget….Some of the most difficult and protracted wars in societies around the world have been over what is being omitted or downplayed in the telling of their history – and what should be kept in. When people talk, as they frequently do, about the need for “proper” history, what they really mean is the history they want and like. School textbooks, university courses, movies, books, war memorials, art galleries, and museums have all from time to time been caught up in debates that say as much or more about the present and its concerns as they do about ostensible subject of history.” (pg 127)MacMillan uses a variety of examples to demonstrate how history has been used to support wars, land claims, and memorials, as well as argue against the same. She argues that this is, in part, caused by the influx of amateur historians, while professional historians argue that they shouldn’t be expected to write fascinating history because the public does not have similar expectations of scientists. Generally, I agree with MacMillan. However, I found she used far too many examples – if one wasn’t convinced by the third, I suspect one will not be convinced by the fourth or fifth. As well, this work began as a series of lectures, and I think that accounts for repeated use and explanation of the same phrasing, such as mentioning more than once that Churchill had quipped that the Balkans had more history than they could swallow.I do want to recommend this book because the variety of examples are far-reaching – not only American abuses of history, but Canadian, German, British, Chinese, Japanese, French, Turkish, Greek—it is a lengthy list. I suspect that everyone will read something they find offensive to have challenged (as I did). There is a lot of focus on war and how leaders have twisted history to support wars, especially in later chapters, so this may be of interest to people who are interested in anti-war activism.On the other hand, I found the repetition irritating. I think Lies my Teacher Told Me makes the same argument, but in a more engaging (and American-centric, as it is a critique of how American schools teach history) way. I felt that too many of the examples were about war, and the last chapter, “History as Guide and Friend,” focused entirely on war. I would have appreciated more examples to do with things like land claims, residential schools, and reparation payments.Overall, I found this book interesting. I will keep it for later reference. But I do not suspect I will reread it in its entirety.

  • Jim Coughenour
    2019-05-06 20:26

    Reading this book was like sipping a cup of tepid cocoa. I picked it up with high expectations – MacMillan is the much-heralded author of Paris 1919 – and was almost immediately disappointed by a style crafted to offend and interest no one. In the spiky sub-genre of the "uses and abuses of history," this book is all soft round edges. Here's a typical sentence: "History has so often produced conflicts, but it can also help in bringing about reconciliations." (p. 136) I'm tempted to say that the book's most useful feature is its suggestions for "further reading." Perhaps Dangerous Games is best recommended as an exceptionally safe annotated bibliography.By way of contrast, I'd offer a couple historians not mentioned in her book from either side of the political spectrum: John Lukacs and Robert Fisk. To read Lukacs on Hitler, Stalin or Churchill, or Fisk on the mendacity of Euro-American involvement in the Middle East is to be challenged and braced by authors who take history very seriously indeed. Fisk opens The Age of the Warrior with a blistering attack on historians who minimize or deny the Armenian genocide – a bit of ancient history that still burns like acid. Reading MacMillan you'd only have a dim idea that anything essential was at stake: "It is absolutely true that a dreadful thing was done to the Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Turks during World War I." Her facts are correct; but her tone makes it sound as if murdering a half-million or more people is a regrettable lapse in manners. This sweet-tempered survey may convince us that history isn't bunk, but it sure is boring.

  • Meg - A Bookish Affair
    2019-05-06 20:27

    This book fell sort of flat for me. It's been said that 'history is written by the victors' and MacMillan, a noted historian, believes this is true (as do I). MacMillan's premise is that what we understand to be our history is really subjective. Yes, there are facts in history but there is always story and that is the part that becomes subjective. What facts are left in? What facts are left out? What's glossed over? What's emphasized? I think this is something that historians struggle with a lot. I was expecting something a little more in depth. Each chapter is dedicated to a different way that history can be used. It's chock full of examples but with very little explanation of the implications of how the particular history told. I really wish that it would have gone more into more of how history is told differently depending on who is telling it. Recently there's been a couple news stories about school history books in various areas that have either included or un-included things based on the area that the books were for. It would have been interested to hear more about that.This is a good overview but if you're looking for something with more explanation and food for thought

  • حسان الحمدان
    2019-05-17 18:42

    قرأت الكتاب مترجمًا إلى العربية بعنوان: "التاريخ: الاستفادة منه أم استباحته؟". ترجمته هند السديري، ونشرته جامعة الملك سعود.الكتاب مصاغ بأسلوب سلس، ويتحدث حول مواضيع مختلفة عن التاريخ كأداة. الترجمة عادية، وخدمة الكتاب ضعيفة. كما أن أفكار المؤلفة حول الإسلام والعرب مستفزة كالعادة.كتاب جميل.

  • Olya
    2019-05-03 21:36

    Interesting collection of anecdotes from history and how that history was misapplied. Makes you think (always a good thing).

  • Margaret Mehl
    2019-04-26 23:38

    While humanities departments at universities are increasingly under pressure because they supposedly have little practical use, history, one of the oldest humanities subjects, remains hugely popular with the general public. The eminent historian Margaret Macmillan acknowledges this fact in The Uses and Abuses of History, first published in 2008 and written for a wide audience. Her first chapter is entitled, “The History Craze.” Subsequent chapters describe the different way in which history is used and the conflicts (even “history wars”) it gives rise to. Early on in the book Macmillan asserts that professional historians have tended to leave the field of popular history to amateurs. She calls for professional historians to become more engaged in public history. Professional historians are needed because they are trained to work with causality and sequence, both crucial to history and to deal with complex and difficult issues. Their task is to provide reliable knowledge of the past, which citizens need, because it “helps us to challenge dogmatic statements and sweeping generalizations”. By giving us context and examples history helps us question assumptions, look for information, evaluate evidence and consider alternatives to present realities. MacMillan ends by advising her readers “to use it, enjoy it, but always handle history with care.”This well-written book with a zero fog index will appeal to anyone who likes to think about history. I particularly recommend it to professional historians who want reminding of why what they are doing matters and why they should engage more in public debates.

  • Gordon
    2019-05-14 00:46

    In the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russians came up with the saying, "These days, we live in a country with an unpredictable past". History is always about the interpretation and re-interpretation of the past from the perspective of the needs of the present. Ever since that realization hit home with me a decade or so ago when I read E.H. Carr's great book "What is History?" it has made me carefully check the year that any work of history was written, before I decide whether or not to read it. A history of WWII written in the 1950s? No, I don't think I want to read that. Too much has happened since then and brought forth new interpretations for me to limit myself to what was known about WWII in the first decade or two after it ended.Margaret MacMillan is an excellent historian, judging by this book and the only other work of hers I have read, "Paris 1919". I think she's learned enough about history to be skeptical of it. In particular, she's skeptical of the history of war, where the aftermath of war very quickly becomes what another historian called the "aftermyth" of war. And those myths have a nasty tendency to keep fuelling new conflicts for decades and even centuries afterwards. Think about the Battle of Kosovo (1389), the Battle of the Plains of Abraham (1759) or the Crusader conquest of Jerusalem (1098). Kinda makes you wonder if we wouldn't be better off if we just forgot about these ancient wars. But then I think of Bush's Iraqi War, and I remember why we're better off if we don't make decisions in a historical vacuum.MacMillan’s book includes a great quotation from an English writer, John Carey: “One of history’s most useful tasks is to bring home to us how keenly, honestly and painfully that past generations pursued aims that now seem to us wrong or disgraceful”. This task is unfortunately the one where history most often fails spectacularly. We assume that if our armies fought bloodily and bravely, then the cause must have been noble -- particularly if we won.This is a well-written series of essays, originally delivered as lectures, and the simple style of the book reflects that origin. I think anyone interested in history would do well to read this book.

  • Mike Clinton
    2019-05-11 21:53

    I've had this shelved for a year or so and finally picked it up to give it a quick read. The new academic year will start at the end of this month, so I want to begin getting myself gradually into the mental flow of reflecting upon the critical nature of history. I'm giving this five stars not so much because it has the attributes of a profound and influential classic, although it is profound in an understated way, engagingly written, and accessibly describes examples from around the world that demonstrate how debates about what history should be told and how link the past with the present in substantive and meaningful ways; rather, it's a personal five-star rating because it corresponds so well with what I teach my own students - to the point that the content overlaps noticeably. Whether I can assign the book to students in an introductory general education class is something that I'll need to give some consideration. MacMillan provides sufficient context for the historical references that she makes - but that's my assessment; many students tune out as soon as they encounter a reference unfamiliar to them, without recognizing that the relevant background is laid out in explanation there in the book. In any case, it's certainly a book that I would recommend for students entering undergraduate history programs.

  • Richard
    2019-05-09 18:40

    Professor Margaret MacMillan writes a lucid and compelling analysis of the importance of History in our lives. She illustrates the way History can be applied on a macro- and micro-cosmic level. Of course it can be misapplied in many ways and she gives examples of that too. Paramount in her approach is her concern with the power of History to develop personal understanding and awareness:"... History helps us to understand: first, those with whom we have to deal, and second, and this is equally important, ourselves."Her concluding comment summarizes this view:"If the study of History does nothing more than teach us humility, scepticism and awareness of ourselves, then it has done something useful. We must continue to examine our own assumptions and those of others and ask, where is the evidence? Or is there another explanation? We should be very wary of grand claims in history's name of those who claim to have uncovered the truth once and for all. In the end my only advice is use it, enjoy it, but always handle history with care.Speaking personally, I find this book especially appropriate here in Ireland where the new Junior Secondary School Curriculum proposes to remove History as a core subject. Understandably, History teachers are up in arms.

  • Wise_owl
    2019-05-19 22:27

    Short, succint and covering some ground I've already seen, this is a book that I would recommend to people. MacMillan touches on the ways in which people utilize history in their lives, in their politics and to devices. Classic examples, such as how the German understanding of the end of WWI led to the rise of the Nazi's. Less well known examples; the struggles over the Enola Grey exhibit in the Smithsonian, the questions of how to deal with the French Revolution in French Schools. Ultimately it's an advocacy book for professional histories to pay attention to popular history and put themselves out more in support of their field. It's also a call for historical education that is multifaceted, teaching people the potential and varying 'stories' one can generate with regards to historical experience. It's not a 'deep' book in that it touches very lightly on the things it covers, but I think for those who aren't really aware of the 'history wars' or the underlying themes of the book, it's a good read.

  • Vikas Datta
    2019-04-24 00:40

    Excellent... a most articulately but accessibly argued account of what history is and shouldn't be, where it can be legitimately used and where not, and the perils of ignoring it or using it selectively or lop-sidedly, all backed with a wide gamut of examples from all over the world...

  • Bettie☯
    2019-04-29 23:42

    mp3 workThis was very interesting and dangerous - as dangerous as walking through a mine field on magnetic stilts, in the fog, AND wearing sunglasses over blind eyes.YOU try and define history.:O)

  • Melrose
    2019-05-18 22:40

    Go read this review on my blog: It’s January. People are looking at gym leaflets, trying again to stick to the resolutions they made in vain last year. Trying as best possible to hide from last year's events, (whether it was political, or that Dinner Party at Fred’s which no one dares mention,) using the new shiny '2017' as a shield. It is at this time of year that most people try and avoid history, in whatever form. However, we shouldn’t shun history. It should not be cast aside. Instead, it should be utilised, and used to our advantage. (So, note to self, never attempt to serve Baked Alaska near the Victorian curtains again.) The Uses and Abuses of History illustrates people who have done exactly that (no, not served Baked Alaska and then set the house on fire,) but have used history to their advantage. Although there may be situations you will never find yourself in, there are many examples that can be related to, and the book will start to answer the common question: What can you even do with history?The Uses and Abuses of History is a thorough review of the way history has been manipulated and used as a tool in order to achieve certain goals. It shows us what the consequences are when history is taken into the wrong hands, and how this can in turn affect us in the present. To tell the truth, there wasn’t exactly a balance of uses and abuses of history, as Macmillian mainly looked at the more negative side to the way the past has been used, but it was nevertheless an interesting collection of essays.For a non-fiction essay based book, it is surprisingly readable and full of interesting and understandable examples, which makes this book stand out from the hundreds of others similar in theme, crammed with illegible text and unfathomable references. A great example from the book was the Communist Chinese's' use of history; they tried to eradicate every single piece evidence of a time before communism in the country, including priceless artefacts, and rewrite the past to be used for their own means. Many people brought up in the Chinese education system have never once questioned their textbooks, the history of their country that had been fabricated from someone’s mind in an office. The words from their teachers that settled like dust in their minds after a long day at school were, and still are, taken as complete truth. The Uses and Abuses of History teaches you that rewriting the past to suit your own means is easier than you think, and more common in our lives than you’d expect, whether in terms of a politician vying to elevate their popularity, or a simple blunder made by an uninformed amateur historian. Not exactly a fast-paced action novel, nor one bursting with intricate characters (although the public figures referred to here are illustrious,) but if you’re willing to read a book about history, then this may as well be this one. After all, what is the point in history? Have you read this book- what did you think of it? What’s your favourite historical novel? How close to the truth do you think historical novels should be? Comment your thoughts below!

  • Sense ofHistory
    2019-04-29 22:55

    A collection of lectures given in 2007. Does not contain much new insights, and at one time MacMillan is very one sided in pleading for a purely academic study of history. But the final chapters are very interesting, with an analysis of how examples from the past (such as the trauma of Munich 1938 afterwards was used and abused in a wide variety of ways).And of course I can surely subscribe the final conclusion: "If the study of history does nothing more than teach us humility, scepticism and awareness or ourselves, then it has done something useful. We must continue to examine our own assumptions and those of others and ask, where's the evidence? Or, is there another explanation? We should be wary of grand claims in history's name or those to have uncovered the truth once and for all. In the end, my only advice is use it, enjoy it, but always handle history with care.

  • Palimp
    2019-05-12 01:27

    La historia está de moda. Cada vez se publican más novelas históricas. Con frecuencia se hace uso de acontecimientos históricos para defender determinadas políticas. Es habitual simplificar los hechos para que encajen con una historia bonita.Pero los hechos son tozudos. La historia no se compone de buenos y malos, de héroes sin tacha y villanos inmisericordes. La realidad siempre es compleja, y si queremos comportarnos como adultos debemos investigar los hechos y dejar de lado los prejuicios.

  • أثير
    2019-05-14 20:44

    قرأت هذا الكتاب مترجما للعربية بواسطة أ.د.هند السديريونشرته دار جامعة الملك سعود 1435/1436الكتاب مقسم على فصول، أولها مملة جدا، ومابعدها كانت مثيرة ورائعة جدا جدا جدا ومُثرِية بالنسبة لقارئ ليس له باع طويل في التاريخ مثلي، مشكلتي مع الكاتبة أنها غير حيادية "فيما قرأت" أو بالأحرى لاتحرص على ذلك إنما تضع الأمور في قالب رأيها الخاص، كتَبت كلام خاطئ عن المملكة العربية السعودية في أسطر قليلة، ولم أتوافق مع رأيها فيما يخص فلسطين والإسرائيليين.الكتاب جيد بشكل عام ومُثري.

  • Shishir
    2019-05-16 19:41

    A compilation of lessons from history and its uses to ‘mask’ reality to show only what is positive; inability to see the mistakes of the past and repeat them; lack of understanding of ‘others’ point of view leads to so many disputes and warsWe can learn from history, but can also deceive ourselves when we selectively take evidence from past to justify our actions Numerous historical examples – errors in judgment and misunderstanding the views and values of the ‘other’

  • Adam Colby
    2019-05-07 19:35

    I really expected more. This was a very broad overview of how and why history can be manipulated. The main point being if you don't know history you can't challenge others but also don't trust everything you are told.

  • Tammam Aloudat
    2019-04-27 19:25

    Somewhat of a "history for beginners" with some obvious examples and many omissions. Directed mostly at Western audiences with mostly Western examples. This is what I'd offer a semi-interested youth to get them more into history.

  • Magnus Halsnes
    2019-05-12 22:35

    Short and easy to read introduction to history and its use and role in society.

  • Carol
    2019-05-07 19:38

    A timely read by a great writer!

  • Colby
    2019-05-23 01:49

    An excellent text for Canadian high-school students