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The Uses and Abuses of History


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If misrepresented, the past can cause confusion, conflict and tragedy. With care, it can help us to understand the present. Award-winning historian Margaret Macmillan proves that history really does matter.

About the Author

Margaret MacMillan is the author of Women of the Raj and international bestsellers Nixon in China and Peacemakers: The Paris Conference 1919 and Its Attempt to End the War. The past provost of Trinity College at the University of Toronto, she is now the warden of St Antony's College at Oxford University.


MacMillan is a distinguished historian who has written illuminatingly on topics as diverse as the 1919 Paris peace conference and Nixon in China. Perhaps more unusually she is also a gifted writer, and her account of the various uses of history is wonderfully accessible. Her message - that we cannot help invoking the past when we try to shape the future, but should use it with due caution and humility - is a salutary one for politicians -- John Gray * Guardian *
This is history used as its own best argument -- Geoff Pevere * The Toronto Sun *
In a world where the spin doctor has replaced the historian, MacMillan reminds readers of the importance of dispassionate, fact-driven narrative, as opposed to reassuring or self-serving accounts that pass for history while burying the unpleasant truths. -- Michael Harris * Ottawa Sun *
This is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the importance of correctly understanding the past. * Publishers Weekly *
an elegant writer as well as a notable historian * Sunday Telegraph *
A thoughtful and accessible study * BBC History Magazine *
No history lover should fail to digest the lessons of this short but brilliant book -- Simon Heffer * Daily Telegraph *
A magnificent book, wise and timely * Tribune *
Margaret MacMillan's polemical The Uses and Abuses of History is full of robust common sense * NZ Listener *
This small compact book is one of the best summaries of the ways that history can be put into illicit ideological service or manipulated for purposes of propaganda. It is one hundred percent lucid and could be read by the general reader as well as the academic * Investigate - NZ *
Erudite and thought-provoking -- Penelope Lively
Both timely and justified -- Tom Holland * Observer *

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