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Acclaimed historian Margaret MacMillan explores here the many ways in which history affects us all. She shows how a deeper engagement with history, both as individuals and in the sphere of public debate, can help us understand ourselves and the world better. But she also warns that history can be misused and lead to misunderstanding. History is used to justify religious movements and political campaigns alike. 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. It is imperative that we have an understanding of the past and avoid these and other common traps in thinking to which many fall prey. This brilliantly reasoned work, alive with incident and figures both great and infamous, will compel us to examine history anew—and skillfully illuminates why it is important to treat the past with care.
Praise for Dangerous Games:
"In this important work, we learn that history is more than presenting facts, it is about framing the past. This is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the importance of correctly understanding the past." —Publishers Weekly
"MacMillan deftly maneuvers through time [in this] wide-ranging and provocative testament to transparency as the best historical education."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"For both historians and lay readers, this thoughtful and provocative work will be enlightening and useful."
"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 unpleasant truths."
"[Dangerous Games] reads like the practical manifesto of an especially eminent historian. It tells us why history matters, how it is written and what function it has for societies that continue to place value in its free and rigorous study. It explains why history (and the historian) is needed and what the consequences are when—like all potentially dangerous substances, democracy included—it falls into the wrong hands... This is history used as its own best argument."
—The Toronto Star
"This is an eminently sensible and humane book, lucidly and enjoyable written and argued. It is addressed to the general reader, and anyone interested in history should find it an engaging, quick read."
—The Globe and Mail