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 todays 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 Germanys 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 preyas 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.
There are dozens of historians who have criticized the efficacy of history as an authority; In this short volume, MacMillan does this with wit and an accessible, engaging style. Drawing upon a wealth of historical examples, MacMillan reminds the reader that history is malleable, and too often distorted for political and sociological gain. (Reviewed by Derek Brown).
The Denver Post
In her latest effort, MacMillan seems to have forgotten how important it is to envelop the reader inside a story... Her desire to put the authority back in the hands of "professional historians" is disheartening and seems at odds with the evidence presented in her book.
The Washington Post
... Dangerous Games should be read by anyone concerned with making the public dialogue as open and honest as possible.
New York Times Dangerous Games is a frequently mordant and consistently provocative indictment of the myriad ways in which history as a way of understanding the world is too often distorted, politicized and badly mishandled. MacMillan lays about with rhetorical broadsword and with fearless abandon.
MacMillan has formed a powerful and important argument that people — and not just the people in power — must know their true histories. This book is a great place for everyone to start.
For both historians and lay readers, this thoughtful and provocative work will be enlightening and useful.
Starred Review. This is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the importance of correctly understanding the past.
Starred Review. A wide-ranging and provocative testament to transparency as the best historical education.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by WIU College Student Frustrated!!!!!! First of all, I would like for all persons reading this to understand my situation. I am an undeclared freshman in college. I am enrolled on basic classes. One particular class is Western civilization since 1648. For this class, "Dangerous... Read More
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 started as a tussle between two royal houses for the French throne and ended with both France and England embracing a newly discovered sense of nationalism.
For much of the rest of the world, national borders did not follow until after
World War II, and were tied to the independence of...
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