The Uses and Abuses of History
Modern Library, Hardcover, 9780679643586, 188pp.
Publication Date: July 7, 2009
Margaret MacMillan, an acclaimed historian and “great storyteller” (The New York Review of Books), explores here the many ways in which history–its values and dangers–affects us all, including how it is used and abused. The New York Times bestselling author of Paris 1919 and Nixon and Mao reveals how a deeper engagement with history in our private lives and, more important, in the sphere of public debate can guide us to a richer, more enlightened existence, as individuals and nations. Alive with incident and figures both great and infamous, including Robespierre, Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, Mao Zedong, Karl Marx, Henry Kissinger, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and George W. Bush, Dangerous Games explores why it is important to treat history with care.
History is used to justify religious movements and political campaigns alike. The manipulation of history is increasingly pervasive in today’s world. Dictators may suppress history because it undermines their ideas, agendas, or claims to absolute authority. Nationalists may tell false, one-sided, or misleading stories about the past. Political leaders might mobilize their people by telling lies. Adolf Hitler, for instance, blamed the Jews for Germany’s humiliation at Versailles and its defeat in World War I. It is imperative that we have an understanding of the past and avoid the all-too-common traps in thinking to which many fall prey–as MacMillan skillfully illuminates. This brilliantly reasoned work will compel us to examine history anew, including our own understanding of it, and our own closely held beliefs.
“Reminds readers that history matters . . . This is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the importance of correctly understanding the past.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review