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The Uses and Abuses of History Paperback – April 16, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"'In a world where the spin doctor has replaced the historian, MacMillan reminds readers of the importance of dispassionate, fact-driven narrative, as opposed to reassuring or self-serving accounts that pass for history while burying the unpleasant truths.' - Ottawa Sun 'This is history used as its own best argument' - The Toronto Sun"

About the Author

Margaret MacMillan is the author of Women of the Raj and international bestsellers Nixon in China and Peacemakers: The Paris Conference 1919 and Its Attempt to End the War. The past provost of Trinity College at the University of Toronto, she is now the warden of St. Antony's College at Oxford University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books Ltd (April 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846682045
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846682049
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,414,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Kader on December 27, 2009
Format: Paperback
Margaret's book about uses & abuses of history is in a way short but quite interesting.
She manages to cover a wide spectrum of examples from all over the world where history can be comforting for some & painful for others & how humans try to use history & distort it, sometimes cleverly & sometimes drastically.
I do not agree with the previous review which is rather harsh & somewhat unfair with its unconvincing points, but nonetheless, history is abused by many, politicians & leaders, who want to bend it for their advantage resulting in fabricated historical accounts which causes further strive & suffering. While history can be & should be used to learn lessons from it that can widen our perspective if analysed objectively.
I have seen examples of what the writer warns of in the begining about casual historians & the need for professional historians to fill the gap thats being exploited by others.
I recommend this book to anyone who's interested in world history & they can find something in it that relates to them or a topic that interested them.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mr. C. Alverson on November 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a slick and superficial little book that purports to inform the reader on the uses and abuses of history. But the problem is that MacMillan, despite being a history professor and warden of St, Anthonyfs college, Oxford University, often does not seem to know the difference between 'use' and 'abuse' herself.

Early on in the book, she declares: 'bad history makes sweeping generalizations'. But then, nine pages later, she states baldly, without support or documentation: '[Fidel] Castro was prepared to see his country destroyed if it brought Soviet victory in the Cold War closer.' If this is not sweeping, if it is not a generalization, it is nothing.

In a epopularf book without references or attempt at authentication, MacMillan goes on to do more of the same:

ae She accuses esomef blacks of 'unseemly competition for victimhood' with Jews.

ae She criticizes 'modern nationalist movements' for claiming the right to 'rule themselves on a specific piece of territory.'

ae She defends harsh military discipline, asserting, without evidence, that 'threat of execution may help to keep armies from disintegrating...'

ae Despite these not-so-glittering generalities, MacMillan claims to espouse the 'what really happened' school of history.

In short, while MacMillanfs book is superficially entertaining and will not tax the non-historian, its content very often belies its title.

Charles Alverson
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