Margaret MacMillan, the great-granddaughter of famous British statesman and Prime Minister David Lloyd George, received her Ph.D. from Oxford University. A past provost of Trinity College at the University of Toronto, MacMillan is the warden of St. Antony's College at Oxford University. A leading expert on history and international relations, MacMillan is a frequent commentator in the media.
She is the author of Women of the Raj, a selection of the "History Book Club." In addition to numerous articles and reviews on a variety of Canadian and world affairs, MacMillan has co-edited books dealing with Canada's international relations, including with NATO, and with Canadian-Australian relations.
Her non-fiction Peacemakers: The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War won the Duff Cooper Prize for outstanding literary work in the field of history, biography or politics; the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History; the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize for the best work of non-fiction published in the United Kingdom and the 2003 Governor General's Literary Award in Canada.
In August 2014, MacMillan was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.
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An Interview with Margaret MacMillan, about Dangerous Games: The Uses and Abuses of History
In your book, you make a compelling case for the importance of history in our daily lives. When did you realize that people made use of history as a tool?
There was no one Aha! Moment, but I really started to think about it in the 1990s when I was teaching a course on identitieswhat goes into making themand it was clear that history was a key factor. Individuals and groups told themselves stories about where they and their ancestors had come from, including, for example, the great moments in their past and their progress toward the present. The stories were not always wrong, but they often included myths or chose facts very selectively. One of the main things we looked at was nationalism and the ways in which historians had helped to create the sense of a nation that was much bigger than its individual members, which predated them and which would endure long after they were dead. At the time, we had a terrifying example of the abuse of history right in front of us in the Balkans, where Yugoslavia was falling apart and all sides were using the past to stir up their own people against the others.
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