Summary and book reviews of Dangerous Games by Margaret MacMillan

Dangerous Games

The Uses and Abuses of History

by Margaret MacMillan

Dangerous Games by Margaret MacMillan X
Dangerous Games by Margaret MacMillan
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jul 2009, 208 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2010, 208 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Derek Brown
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

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.

Chapter One

The History Craze

History, and not necessarily the sort that professional historians are doing, is widely popular these days, even in North America, where we have tended to look toward the future rather than the past. It can be partly explained by market forces. People are better educated and, particularly in the mature economies, have more leisure time and are retiring from work earlier. Not everyone wants to retire to a compound in the sun and ride adult tricycles for amusement. History can be helpful in making sense of the world we live in. It can also be fascinating, even fun. How can even the best novelist or playwright invent someone like Augustus Caesar or Catherine the Great, Galileo or Florence Nightingale? How can screenwriters create better action stories or human dramas than exist, thousand upon thousand, throughout the many centuries of recorded history? There is a thirst out there both for knowledge and to be entertained, and the market has responded ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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...continued

Full Review (620 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Derek Brown).

Media Reviews

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.

NPR
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.

Booklist
For both historians and lay readers, this thoughtful and provocative work will be enlightening and useful.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the importance of correctly understanding the past.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. A wide-ranging and provocative testament to transparency as the best historical education.

Reader Reviews

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 Games...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

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 started as a ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Read-alikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Margaret MacMillan

If you liked Dangerous Games, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search read-alikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: My Monticello
    My Monticello
    by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson
    In the incendiary opening story of My Monticello, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson's debut collection, a ...
  • Book Jacket: The Wrong End of the Telescope
    The Wrong End of the Telescope
    by Rabih Alameddine
    Rabih Alameddine's The Wrong End of the Telescope follows Mina, a Lebanese American doctor who ...
  • Book Jacket: Lightning Strike
    Lightning Strike
    by William Kent Krueger
    It is the summer of 1963 in Tamarack County, Minnesota. Just outside the small town of Aurora, ...
  • Book Jacket: Skinship
    Skinship
    by Yoon Choi
    The fine thing about short stories in general is their way of following characters through ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Morningside Heights
by Joshua Henkin
A tender and big-hearted novel about love in the face of loss, from the award-winning author of The World Without You.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Flesh & Blood
    by N. West Moss

    This beautifully written memoir offers insight, understanding, and joy.

Win This Book!
Win Sisters of the Great War

Sisters of the Great War by Suzanne Feldman

A powerful novel of two unconventional American sisters who volunteer at the front during World War I.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

Y A B Up T W T

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.