Known as a historian who takes on ambitious projects, Margaret MacMillan doesn't disappoint in Dangerous Games
. Drawing upon a wealth of historical examples, she reminds the reader that history is malleable, and too often distorted for political and sociological gain. She cautions that history is neither a guide nor an authority, and that its true value is to be found in the process of examination, rather than in the judgment of its content.
[History] aids in formulating questions, and without good questions it is difficult to begin to think in a coherent way at all. Knowledge of history suggests what sort of information might be needed to answer those questions. Experience teaches how to assess that information.
MacMillan's approach is both engrossing and accessible. Inevitably, people will cite specific historical...
Beyond the Book
A brief history of borders
Most of us take it for granted that every person on earth is the citizen of a nation
state, but this is a relatively recent concept.
Take Europe for example. Although there had long been empires that stretched across large tracts of land, up until the Middle Ages Europe was essentially made up of multiple city states. Indeed, the modern day passport is believed to have begun as a medieval document required to pass through the gate ("porte") of a city wall. In general, documents were not required when arriving at sea ports, which were considered open trading points.
It was not until the 15th century that the concept of a national border came into being - triggered, in part, by the Hundred Years War (1337-1453), which...