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Harry Potter and History (Wiley Pop Culture and History Series) Paperback – May 1, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Were Voldemort and the Death Eaters similar to the Nazis?

How did Muggles use mandrakes, bezoars, cauldrons, and love potions?

Would a woman have more rights as a witch or a Muggle?

How do the Malfoys compare to Muggle English aristocrats?

Who was the real Nicolas Flamel?

You'll find the answers and more inside this book, the first to explore the real history behind the world of Harry Potter. From Dementors to the Dark Mark, from Hogwarts to house-elves, Harry Potter and History takes a revealing look at the historical backdrop of J. K. Rowling's novels, with a timeline comparing the key events of the wizarding world to actual human history.

You'll learn how real British boarding schools compare to Hogwarts, where the Wizengamot and the Ministry of Magic came from, how the magical books and quills used by Harry and his friends were made, and the history of werewolves before Professor Lupin and Fenrir Greyback. You'll also discover the historical origins of the spells, charms, and lessons Hogwarts students learn, from Avada Kedavra to Levicorpus. This book takes every Harry Potter fan even deeper within the series, describing the rich historical background of the characters and their wizarding world.

About the Author

Nancy R. Reagin is a professor of history and women's and gender studies at Pace University, who has published several books in modern European history. She's also an active fan who has worked on fan archives and websites, and she has helped build fan organizations. She is appalled by Professor Binns's teaching methods and would enjoy using pensieves, Veritaserum, and Time-Turners in her own research.
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Product Details

  • Series: Wiley Pop Culture and History Series (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (May 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470574720
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470574720
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book, because it gives you more about Harry's world by exploring the real history that the wizarding world is built on. There are interesting chapters about where bezoars, mandrakes, the Philosopher's Stone, or particular spells and potions came from, and how they were used by Muggles throughout history (and photos of real bezoars and other things that looked like they belonged in Prof. Snape's classroom). The book also uses history to tell you more about wizarding institutions like Hogwarts, the Ministry and Wizengamot, Gringotts, and pureblood elite families like the Malfoys, or groups like the werewolves.

I liked the timeline at the start of the book, comparing Muggle and wizarding history. It's well-written and an amusing read for Potter fans who want to know more about some of the characters and the wizarding world as a whole----sort of like a book version of the "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" theme park.
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book, with two caveats.

First, and Potter fans please forgive me for saying this, the book talks about the Potter world as if it were factually true. Now this approach is cute, but in a few places I found it hard to tell whether the book was telling me about real "Muggle" history or about something that happened in Rowling's imagination. In the worst cases the book draws sociological conclusions from things that didn't really happen. One shouldn't try to draw real-world conclusions from situations that are entirely imaginary.

Second, I really found the book to be disorganized. There are chapters and subheadings, to be sure, but the book read like a huge collection of random thoughts. Part of this feeling no doubt comes from the fact that the book is a collection of essays by many different authors. But there was little organization that I could see, and so, despite the wealth of interesting facts and observations, I found it difficult to make sense of the book as a whole. I think the book would be vastly improved by a clearer structure.

In short, I found the book to be okay, certainly readable, and probably of interest to many Potter fans. But I think the vast amount of material, with additional editing, could make a better book than it does.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a great read for any fan of both history and Harry Potter. The author does a great job of interweaving the Potterverse with actual history. Readers will not be able to help but learn. I would not give this book to anyone under 14 years of age due to some of the more violent truths of history they may not be ready for.
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Format: Paperback
This book is great! It connects up stuff in the wizarding world with real-life things like witches, werewolves (at least stories about werewolves), boarding schools and even Nazis. I like history anyway and I love Harry Potter but even if you don't this is way less boring than you think.
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Format: Paperback
Want students to see what teachers and professors really do? Hand out Anne Rupenstein's essay "Hermione Raised her Hand Again: Wizards writing histoy" just one of the many essays collected here. Better yet, just leaving it lying around where it might be found. It's that good.

Like episodes of PBS's History Detectives, the authors included in the collection apply the tools of scholarship to all the major and minor Potter books for a fun, witty, accurate and thoughtful deconstruction of our Muggle world. The best tools, critical thinking, determining the use and abuse of information sources primary and not so primary, even the fundamental question underlying all others, why question in the first place, are deftly handled, arming even middle school students for academic excellence.

What I liked most is that the discussion on every page gives the reader leave for their own inquiry. Precisely because every young scholar already has expertise on the subject, they have the upper hand to enjoy the tools of scholarship with ease as if it were magic.

P.S.: Don't overlook the contributors bios to find wizards amongst us! Makes me wish I was going back to school this Fall too.
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