Self Help

The Uses and Abuses of History - Margaret MacMillan

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Matheus Puppe

· 26 min read



Here is a summary of the key points in the excerpt:

  1. History is something we all create to make sense of our lives and understand ourselves and others. We use history for validation, justification, and for finding meaning and purpose.

  2. History can be helpful but also dangerous. It shapes our institutions, thought processes, and preferences in subtle ways.

  3. Seeking validation from the past is common, but we can also abuse history by creating false narratives to justify mistreating others.

  4. While there are lessons to be learned from history, we must choose them carefully as the past can be used to support almost any viewpoint.

  5. There is currently a “history craze” with popular histories, museums, documentaries, and movies all enjoying commercial success. However, this interest in history goes beyond entertainment - people also seek knowledge and understanding of the world.

  6. In summary, the author argues that history can be valuable when used with wisdom and discernment. But we must also be aware of its potential pitfalls like bias, selectivity, and misuse.

Does this cover the main points discussed in the excerpt in a concise and accurate manner? Let me know if you would like me to clarify or expand on anything in the summary.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

The text discusses the rise of public interest in history and heritage in Western countries. It gives examples of how governments are promoting history and Canadian TV shows about history are popular. The text notes an explosion of history reenactments, festivals, and events in France celebrating historical anniversaries and milestones.

People are interested in history for various reasons. Many want to learn about their own family histories and genealogy, especially with the help of DNA testing. Studying history helps us understand ourselves and the world by showing how the past has shaped values and perspectives.

During the Cold War, history seemed less relevant as the world was divided into communist and capitalist camps. But after the Cold War ended, many historical tensions and conflicts that had been suppressed came to the surface again, showing the importance of understanding history. The author argues that history does not just sit static but shapes the present.

In summary, the text highlights the growing public interest in history due to factors like government initiatives and family history research. It also discusses how the end of the Cold War revealed the relevance of historical conflicts and tensions, contradicting the idea that history had “come to an end.” The author ultimately argues that history continues to shape the present in important ways.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

The author argues that history can offer comfort and simplicity in complex times. People turn to history to seek explanations and patterns for the current instability and uncertainties in the world. However, the author cautions that history can also be misused and distorted. Some key points:

  • History can provide simple explanations and grand narratives that make the present seem more comprehensible. Various thinkers have seen broad patterns in history demonstrating progress, superiority of certain cultures, or the working of divine purpose.

  • People often look to history as an escape from the chaos of the present into a perceived simpler past. Conservatives dream of the idealized small town life, while leftists long for the time of strong unions.

  • World War II is seen as the last morally unambiguous good war, making it a source of heroes and role models lacking today. Political leaders often compare themselves to historical figures to seek legitimacy.

  • The desire to hold lavish funerals for the last surviving veterans of World War I reflects the living’s need to commemorate the sacrifices of that generation, though the veterans themselves are often more modest in their wishes.

In summary, the author argues that history can offer comfort and legitimacy in difficult times, but its uses and abuses must be considered carefully to avoid distorting or oversimplifying the complexities of the past and present.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

In a secular world with declining organized religion, history has taken on the role of conveying morality and values. Leaders often seek legitimacy by invoking historical precedents and comparing themselves to successful figures from the past. However, history can also highlight leaders’ mistakes by reminding us of alternative decisions made by past leaders. Despite attempts by dictators to control and rewrite history, appeals to history reflect our desire for judgment beyond individual humans. This faith in history leads some to seek apologies and compensation for past injustices. However, such actions are only appropriate when there is a direct link between the victims and perpetrators. In conclusion, while history can convey important moral lessons, it must be interpreted carefully.

Here is a summary of the key points in the text:

  1. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the post-apartheid era was created to examine the apartheid era, seek justice for victims, and work toward reconciliation and a shared future. It encouraged people to come forward and testify about apartheid crimes and granted some amnesties.

  2. The author questions whether it is healthy for societies to continually apologize for past wrongs committed by previous generations under different circumstances. While some apologies may be warranted, excessive apologies risk distracting from present issues and problems.

  3. The author argues that professional historians have turned inward recently and write in an obscure and specialized way that is difficult for the public to understand. This leaves a vacuum that amateur historians fill with often simplistic and one-sided histories.

  4. The author calls on professional historians to better engage the public and contest incorrect popular histories. Political history still matters for understanding the present, and historians should not abandon it entirely.

In summary, the key themes are the role and effectiveness of societal apologies for past wrongs, the decline of public history in favor of specialist histories, and the need for historians to better communicate and engage the public.

Here is a summary of the key points in the text:

  1. Historians study new aspects of history based on the current interests and concerns of the time. However, it is still important to establish what actually happened and the sequence of events.

  2. Official histories written after WWII by professional historians were more impartial and revealed failures and debates, rather than simply glorifying the victors. This helped governments learn from mistakes.

  3. The British official histories of WWII were granted full access to records and allowed independence. They were frank and at times controversial.

  4. The historian Noble Frankland, who wrote about the bombing campaign, was personally attacked despite being a veteran himself. Critics accused him of insulting veterans even though they had not read his work.

  5. Historians have a duty to “explode cherished myths” and examine the past impartially, according to Collingwood. This can be uncomfortable and meet resistance.

In summary, the text argues that while new perspectives on history are important, establishing the factual account of what happened remains a core part of the historian’s role. It praises the openness and impartiality of British official WWII histories, but notes that frank histories can be controversial and meet resistance from those with an interest in preserving certain narratives.

  1. Historians studying the past can provide a more nuanced and complex understanding compared to those who lived through events. Their trained perspective and contextual knowledge allows for more objective and reasoned judgments.

  2. Being present during events does not necessarily give greater insight. Those who lived through moments often only knew what the media reported, not full context and debates. A broader view comes with hindsight and research.

  3. Memory is fallible and malleable. It is selective, can change over time, and is influenced by current attitudes. Memories are edited and polished in the retelling.

  4. Collective memory refers to a group’s shared beliefs about the past. It often expresses some essential truth about the group’s identity and is influenced by present-day concerns.

In summary, the key point is that while those who lived through events have valuable firsthand perspectives, historians can provide a more complete and contextualized view of the past through thorough research and analysis. Memory is imperfect and evolves over time, so an objective historical examination can complement and correct personal recollections.

  1. Collective memory is more focused on the present than the past because it shapes how the group sees itself now. Different narratives about the collective past are disputed to redefine the collective present.

  2. For American Jews, the Holocaust became a central part of their identity in the 1960s, not right after World War 2. They started to see victimhood in a more positive light.

  3. Masada has become a symbol of the Jewish people’s determination to die fighting for freedom, although the real story is more complex.

  4. Collective memories are often grounded in facts but do not have to be. Memories shape our identity so questioning them can be “dangerous.”

  5. We argue over history to achieve present goals, make claims, mobilize ourselves, get redress for past injustices, and define our identities.

  6. Identity comes from the groups we belong to, including history. Groups redefine themselves over time in response to internal and external factors.

  7. Histories of marginalized groups help create solidarity and a sense of entitlement. Black History Month aims to celebrate black contributions to Canadian history.

  8. The Deaf community is creating a collective identity and history, seeing deafness as a culture rather than a disability. They resist things like cochlear implants.

In summary, collective memories and histories shape group identities in the present by defining the narrative of the past, often in response to internal and external pressures. They give groups a sense of cohesion, belonging, and purpose.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

The author discusses how the deaf community and nationalists invoke history for their causes. For deaf activists, there was an idealized “golden age” of the deaf community before the rise of oralism that pushed for teaching deaf people to speak. Nationalists point to past glories to motivate people in the present, but this can lead to unrealistic expectations and harmful policies. Greek nationalists after Ottoman rule invoked ancient Greek history but it resulted in disastrous interventions in Turkey. Similarly, ideologies like Marxism and Fascism use a predetermined vision of history to justify their narratives and ignore facts that contradict them. Even setbacks are seen as temporary and blamed on enemies. Figures like Bin Laden point to historical injustices against Muslims to justify their actions. While most people do not take such simplistic views of history, we still tend to invoke history to justify our present positions.

The key ideas are:

  • Deaf activists and nationalists invoke idealized histories to motivate and justify their causes in the present.

  • But this can lead to unrealistic expectations, harmful policies, and setbacks are blamed on enemies rather than seen as challenges.

  • Ideologies like Marxism and Fascism rely on predetermined visions of history that ignore facts that contradict their narratives.

  • Figures like Bin Laden invoke historical injustices against Muslims to justify attacks on the West.

  • While most people are more nuanced, we still tend to invoke history to justify our present positions and causes.

Hope this summary helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  1. Harper argues that the Battle of Vimy Ridge was a pivotal moment in the creation of Canada. He urged Canadians to remember the sacrifice of those who fought and defended Canada’s freedom.

  2. Not everyone in Canada agrees with Harper’s view of Vimy Ridge and what it symbolizes. Canada has multiple perspectives on history.

  3. In contrast, China’s Communist Party controls the official version of history. Any views that challenge the party’s authority are not allowed.

  4. Authoritarian regimes use a selective interpretation of history as a form of social control. China has promoted nationalism and patriotic education to counter waning communist ideology.

  5. Focusing only on past grievances can result in an abuse of history. French Canadian nationalists have depicted an image of history where English Canadians are the villains.

  6. Evidence that challenges preferred views of the past is sometimes suppressed. In Japan, nationalists oppose archaeological research on imperial tombs for fear it may undermine myths about the emperor.

  7. The discovery of the Kennewick Man skeleton in the US set off a debate over who had rights to determine the interpretation of the remains - scientists or Native American tribes with their own oral histories.

In summary, while history can build national identity, a balanced and multifaceted view of the past is important to avoid abusing history for political purposes. However, many governments and groups selectively shape historical narratives to serve present interests.

The summary is:

The article argues that distorted, false, or overly simplistic versions of history can serve a purpose in boosting pride and identity, but often come at a cost. It discusses examples of such revised history in Ireland, Marcus Garvey’s rewriting of African history, and Hindu nationalist attempts to change India’s history:

  • In Ireland, historians are now revising some simplistic nationalist myths in Irish history to show a more complex picture. The president said this new history can foster kinship and connection.

  • Marcus Garvey tried to claim ancient Egyptians were black to instill pride, but scholars dismiss his evidence. His view of a static civilization transmitted from Africa is simplistic.

  • Hindu nationalists attempted to revise India’s history to claim that ancient Hindus, not the Indus Valley civilization, were the first in India and that Hindu civilization civilized the world. They pushed new textbooks and appointed loyalists to advance this agenda.

The article argues that distorted history ultimately serves a narrow political agenda of creating a Hindu nation that excludes minorities. The reality is that cultures and civilizations evolve through exchange and influence from within and without.

In summary, the article cautions that while contested history can boost identity, attempts at falsifying or oversimplifying the past often come at the cost of a more nuanced and inclusive historical understanding.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

The passage discusses the role of history in shaping nationalist sentiments in India. It argues that Hindu nationalists promote a misleading version of India’s history that portrays Muslims as enemies of Hindus. Scholars who challenge this version are attacked and threatened.

The attacks on historians are as much about politics in the present as historical accuracy. Political parties use nationalist rhetoric to drum up support from Hindu voters. Any work that is seen as threatening Hindu identity or India’s honor is condemned.

The passage then discusses nationalism more broadly. It notes that nationalism is a relatively modern phenomenon, though nationalists claim ancient histories and traditions. Historians in the 19th century helped create the idea of nations by studying languages, folktales, and archaeology. However, their constructions of nations and national histories were often simplistic and flawed.

The passage warns that nationalist histories, while containing truths, are selectively constructed to support the narrative of the nation’s continuity and destiny. This can lead to dangerous outcomes like wars, ethnic cleansing, and authoritarian regimes.

In summary, the passage critiques the excesses of Hindu nationalist rhetoric in India and argues that nationalist histories, while containing truth, are selectively constructed in ways that can have dangerous political consequences.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

The text discusses the role of history and nationalism. It argues that nations often draw on the past to define their identity, create symbols, and shape narratives. Although many historical figures and events are depicted as ancient and traditional, nationalism often invents or reinterprets them to suit its present needs.

The text uses the example of the Battle of Kosovo for Serbian nationalists. While seen as a defining moment in Serbian history, the narrative exaggerates the importance of the defeat and ignores complexity. The Kosovo myth helped mobilize Serbs in the 19th century but was later exploited by leaders like Milosevic.

Similarly, Israel used history to build national consciousness after its founding in 1948. Figures like Ben-Zion Dinur promoted the view that Israel had always been the goal of the Jewish people and culminated their long history.

In summary, the text argues that nationalism depends on selective interpretations of the past. New nations invent traditions and highlight historical events and figures that fit their current political goals. While these narratives are often criticized as simplistic or one-sided, they have been powerful tools for nation-building.

  • People and groups often use history to justify their actions and gain an advantage in the present. They spin events to portray themselves in a positive light and their opponents negatively.

  • During the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s, all sides invoked history to justify their actions. Serbians portrayed themselves as defenders of Christianity, while Croats saw themselves as part of the West.

  • China often refers to the “Century of Humiliation” to remind foreign powers of past grievances and justify its current actions. It portrays itself as an eternal victim.

  • Countries also use history to shame and pressure other nations. China mentions the past mistreatment of China when dealing with the U.S. and Japan.

  • Sometimes groups seek to change the past, like Armenians who argue that Turkey should admit to genocide against Armenians in the early 20th century before joining the EU. Turks deny any genocide took place.

  • After WWI, Germany used history to undermine the legitimacy of the Treaty of Versailles, claiming military defeat was not a moral defeat.

•The German defeat in World War I came as a shock to the German government and people who had been kept in the dark by the military leadership.

•The army spread the “stab-in-the-back” myth that Germany was not defeated on the battlefield but betrayed from within. This helped them avoid responsibility.

•The light terms of surrender and Wilson’s Fourteen Points led Germans to think they would not be harshly treated, so the Versailles Treaty terms came as a shock.

• Germans saw the treaty terms as punitive and illegitimate, fueling grievances and the desire to circumvent the treaty.

•Rewriting history to remove Germany’s responsibility for starting the war aided Hitler and appeased potential opponents.

•The distortion and misuse of history served Hitler well by bringing him support and facilitating appeasement policies.

•History has become crucial for claiming territory, as traditional grounds like conquest are no longer valid. However, appeals to history can be misleading and self-serving.

•Germany justified annexing Alsace-Lorraine from France by appealing to historical German rule, despite many inhabitants wanting to remain French.

• At the Paris Peace Conference after World War I, territorial claims relied on strategic, ethnic, and historical arguments, though all could be contested.

Here is a summary of the key points in the passage:

  1. Nations have long used history to support their territorial claims. Italy cited Italian civilization in Dalmatia to justify its claims there. Poles cited the borders of 1772 to justify claims to Lithuania and Belarus.

  2. History is often selectively used to support claims, glossing over inconvenient facts. Both Serbia and Romania cited historical ties to the Banat region to support their claims to it.

  3. China uses history to justify its control of Tibet and Taiwan, though the historical claims are questionable.

  4. Conflicts over land often involve arguments based on historical claims and interpretations of history. Aboriginal groups in Canada cite treaties and history to make claims to ancestral lands. Romanians and Hungarians cite different historical dates of arrival in Transylvania. Albanians and Serbs cite different interpretations of history regarding Kosovo.

  5. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict revolves heavily around competing historical narratives. Both sides have different interpretations of key events like the Palestinian exodus in 1948 and different views of links to the land dating back centuries or millennia.

  6. Archaeology has become important in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict because sites can support or undermine historical claims of connection to the land.

In summary, the passage argues that nations often resort to selective interpretations of history to justify territorial claims, and that these historical arguments take on particular significance in land disputes. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is used as an example where competing historical narratives lie at the heart of the conflict.

  1. There were disagreements between the Palestinians and Israelis over antiquities in areas like Jericho that were handed over to Palestinian control. The Palestinians wanted the antiquities back, while Israel wanted joint management of important sites.

  2. Before the Israeli withdrawal, archaeologists scoured the area for ancient scrolls and artifacts, seen by some critics as akin to “Indiana Jones.”

  3. Evidence from archaeology has called into question many biblical stories, but some Israelis have refused to accept these findings. Those who challenge the traditional narratives have faced criticism and attacks.

  4. History involves both remembering and forgetting. What is included or omitted reveals societies’ present concerns.

  5. Many countries teach history to instill national values in young people. But this can distort history by oversimplifying it or depicting it as leading in one direction.

  6. In places like Quebec, Australia, and the UK, there have been debates over what history should be taught in schools and how to best convey the nation’s past to students. There are disagreements over whether history should focus on elite figures or the marginalized, and whether events should be presented chronologically.

  7. In insecure nations, the teaching of history can be an attempt to instill national pride and a positive self-image in students.

  1. Governments in various countries take a strong interest in what is taught in schools, especially in history curriculums. They aim to promote a nationalistic or positive view of the country’s history and downplay problematic aspects.

  2. Freedom of discussion and teaching of history is increasing in some places like South Africa and Ireland, but still restricted in places like China and Russia.

  3. History exhibitions and museums can also be politically controversial. Plans for exhibitions that raise questions about military actions or historical figures have encountered opposition from veterans groups and patriotic organizations.

  4. There was controversy over an exhibition at the Canadian War Museum that referenced debate over the morality of the Allied bombing campaign in WW2. Veterans groups opposed what they saw as the museum labeling Canadian pilots as immoral.

  5. The museum director tried to defuse the criticism by bringing in historians to review the exhibit, but the historians split in their opinions on whether referencing the controversy was warranted or not.

That sums up the key points regarding the control of history teaching and controversy over history exhibitions in various contexts. Let me know if you would like me to expand or modify the summary in any way.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

The text discusses how different countries grapple with controversial or painful parts of their history. It gives examples of controversies and debates around museum exhibitions, public holidays, and historical events in Canada, France, Russia, the U.S., Spain, Germany, and Japan.

Some key points:

• In Canada, veterans controversially objected to the wording of an exhibition at the War Museum, and the museum eventually revised the wording in consultation with the veterans.

• In France, there are ongoing debates over how to present events like the French Revolution and French colonialism in Algeria. There has also been a long struggle to come to terms with France’s Vichy past during World War II.

• In Russia, the government has changed public holidays in an attempt to form a new national identity, but with limited success. Russia has also shown little interest in commemorating the horrors of the Stalinist period.

• Countries like the U.S., Spain, Germany, and Japan have also grappled with how to remember controversial or traumatic parts of their history, though with varying degrees of openness and acknowledgement.

In conclusion, the text argues that history “should not be written to make the present generation feel good but to remind us that human affairs are complicated.” Issues around how history is presented and commemorated often reveal deeper divisions within societies.

  • Initially, most ordinary Germans did not want to discuss or acknowledge Nazism and their involvement in the regime. Books about Nazi atrocities and German guilt did not attract much attention.
  • Over time, West Germans started examining their Nazi past in more depth, prompted by trials of Nazi criminals and a more radical younger generation demanding the truth. East Germans avoided confronting their Nazi past and detached themselves from responsibility.
  • The lesson is that admitting and confronting past crimes, though difficult, can help societies heal and build bridges with others. Public acts of admission and reconciliation can make an impact.
  • Examples of attempts at joint histories and teaching of difficult pasts in France/Germany, Israel/Palestine were discussed. Though challenges remain, the hope is it will foster mutual understanding.
  • Confronting the past can kill regimes that committed those crimes, as in the Soviet Union under glasnost. But most see confronting rather than avoiding the past as the healthier route.

The overall message is that though confronting and admitting past crimes can be difficult, painful processes, in the longer term it can help societies heal, build bridges with others, and foster mutual understanding - more so than avoiding or hiding from that past.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

The text discusses the value and uses of history. It argues that history helps us understand others and ourselves, which can inform current policies and strategies. Not knowing history can lead to misjudgments and mistakes. For example:

  • During the Cold War, the U.S. and Soviets had limited understanding of each other, due to lack of knowledge of each other’s history and culture. This made the conflict more dangerous.

  • When China turned communist in 1949, the U.S. misunderstood Mao and China due to lack of historical knowledge. They failed to predict the Sino-Soviet split.

  • The Soviets also misunderstood the West due to their Marxist views and limited information. They failed to realize the West had no desire for further conflict after WW1.

  • McNamara attributed U.S. failures in Vietnam to “profound ignorance of the history, culture, and politics” of Vietnam.

  • The Bush administration displayed a similar lack of historical knowledge about Iraq, failing to anticipate the difficulties of invasion and occupation.

  • British forces also lacked contextual knowledge before invading Iraq, resulting in strategic mistakes.

In summary, history provides context and understanding that can help avoid misjudgment and improve current strategies. Without it, political and military leaders often fall back on simplistic views and lazy generalizations.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

The passage discusses the importance of history and how it can be useful. It makes the following key points:

  1. History can provide valuable context and perspective. It can show that common perceptions of events are often oversimplified or incorrect. For example, the idea that the German army divisions in World War II were the best is wrong. Similarly, the idea that outsiders can never conquer Afghanistan is incorrect.

  2. History can help provide self-knowledge. It can show that countries’ self-perceptions do not always match reality. For example, Canada sees itself as a benevolent force but has provided little foreign aid, and fought in multiple wars despite seeing itself as peace-loving.

  3. Knowing history can help avoid repeating mistakes. Leaders in World War II wanted to ensure Germany was defeated soundly to avoid another war. They created institutions like the IMF and World Bank to stabilize the global economy.

  4. History can provide useful case studies and analogies. Business and the military study history for lessons on success and failure. The US is now studying France’s war in Algeria for parallels to the Iraq war.

In summary, the passage argues that history can provide important lessons, context and self-knowledge that can be valuable for decision makers.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

The text argues that history can help the military and governments make better decisions, but they have to use history carefully. It gives several examples:

  1. Before World War I, the French military discounted evidence that defense was getting stronger and focused on offensive strategies, which backfired.

  2. After the Vietnam War, the US military failed to remember counterinsurgency lessons, which hurt them in the Iraq War.

  3. History can show alternatives and warn of potential problems, but each event is unique. Stalin refused to heed warnings before Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.

  4. Looking at the British occupation of Iraq after World War I could have informed the US invasion in 2002, but the US repeated many of the same mistakes.

  5. Governments often use historical analogies to inform decisions, though imperfectly. Mao relied on historical examples when opening relations with the US.

In summary, the text argues that history can be useful when making decisions, providing alternatives, warnings, and lessons - but only if used carefully and with an open mind, while recognizing each situation is unique. Historical analogies can be helpful though flawed.

Here is a summary of the key points in the text:

  • Analogies from history must be used carefully as they can oversimplify complex situations and lead to wrong decisions.

  • Neoconservatives have analogized the “War on Terror” as “World War IV” against Islamic fundamentalism, but this is a flawed analogy.

  • The Munich analogy of appeasement has been used to justify many aggressive policies, but it has often been misapplied. Eden wrongly saw Nasser as analogous to Hitler when dealing with the Suez crisis.

  • Leaders like Truman, Kennedy and Johnson invoked the Munich analogy to justify military interventions in Korea, Cuba and Vietnam. But these analogies were debated and contested.

  • Ball argued against sending troops to Vietnam, citing the French defeat there as analogous. But his adversaries focused on the differences between the US and France.

  • There were two main lessons drawn from the Vietnam War. Some saw that the US should never have gotten involved, while others argued the US could have won if it had fought differently.

So in summary, the text discusses how analogies from history like “Munich” and “World War IV” have been invoked and debated in shaping foreign policy decisions, but these analogies are often flawed and contested. Leaders must use caution when drawing lessons from historical precedents.

Here is a summary of the provided text:

  • There is a debate on the proper use and interpretation of history. Leaders often use historical analogies to justify their actions, but these comparisons can be simplistic and misleading.

  • Leaders and policymakers should be careful not to oversimplify complex historical events and force inexact comparisons. Even intelligent and powerful people can go down the wrong path with a misguided interpretation of history.

  • History can teach us humility and skepticism. We should question arguments that claim “history teaches us” or “history will show we were right.”

  • We should be wary of grand claims made in the name of history and those who claim to have uncovered the ultimate truth. History should be approached with care.

  • While history can help make sense of the world, there are always alternative explanations and questions to consider. Official narratives are not always correct.

  • The study of history, if nothing else, can teach us to examine our own assumptions critically and question the evidence presented to us.

  • There are a number of books and works cited that discuss the uses and abuses of history, and historical thinking. The author recommends further reading on the subject.

That’s a summary of the main points presented in the provided text regarding the proper use of history and the risks of misusing historical analogies. Let me know if you would like me to expand or modify the summary in any way.

The author thanks many people who helped with the book, including friends, family, and colleagues. The author singles out some family members for special thanks: brothers Tom and David, sister Ann, brother-in-law Peter Snow, and nephews Dan and Alex. The author’s agent Caroline Dawnay is also thanked. The author specifically mentions gratefully how the author’s mother Eluned was an excellent critic and proofreader. The author thanks Bob Bothwell for teaching the author so much about history over the years and for reading the manuscript and providing advice. The author also expresses appreciation for being at Oxford University and interacting with colleagues interested in history. The author’s students at St. Antony’s are thanked for listening and providing valuable information. Finally, the author thanks those involved in bringing the book to publication, including the Canadian agent Michael Levine and staff at Penguin Group Canada.

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