by Otto English
Sunday, May 14, 2023
My dad left me this book and told me I’d enjoy it. He wasn’t wrong. It’s a quick readable romp through history pointing out that many of the cliches of history, the view you get from memes, are just plain wrong. The chapters are provocatively titled with the fake history viewpoints, for example, “Hitler was a failed artist”, but each chapter doesn’t stick to just its title characters and the more mundane subtitles, in that chapter it’s something like “The importance of creating your own mythology” actually give you a better idea of what’s in the book. In that chapter there are numerous other characters referenced who have got the world to see them as they wanted to be seen, not just Hitler. I enjoyed the book, it’s engagingly written and an easy read.
My criticism would be the lack of referencing - I’d have liked a load of footnotes pointing me to where I could find out about the correct version of events - I’d guess the author would counter that what he’s saying is correct so just look it up anywhere that traffics in non-fake facts. If you’re a fan of the Donald Trumps and Boris Johnsons of this world you’re not going to like this book but I found very little I wanted to argue with. Which of course makes me worry about confirmation bias. It amused me that I found a couple of instances where I definitely wanted to argue with the author but before the book was done he’d pointed out his own fake-facts to the reader.
Don’t believe everything you read, even here, be cynical of why someone wants you to agree with them, but the foundations of this book seem pretty solid to me all the same.