What Are Some Examples of Bad History Books?

Mar 2013
972
Breakdancing on the Moon.
#41
That said, Badian's slashing review was a disgrace, it wasn't necessary for him to set out to humiliate Lane Fox in that way, and he plainly gained too much enjoyment from doing so which doesn't speak well for him.

I'm afraid that I find Lane Fox's books dull, I've never managed to get through one!
I agree, I find classicists can be pretty highly strung and sometimes the gentlemanly facade can drop. There were times when I lost my cool once or twice at a conference myself. Tbf one of those was due to a 'precocious' American UG calling me a Nazi for mentioning 'Indo-European'.

Yes, they can be a little dull can't they? No argument from me there! For what it's worth, he is more engaging in person. As I've got older my tolerance for long winded books has oddly decreased. Like a sort of ADHD. Oh, I can still enjoy the big weight tomes but I prefer those and academic articles to long discursive books aimed at the general reader and so very fluffy.

Recently been trying to get through Romm's "Ghost on the Throne" and its so....so....just...draaaaaaaaaaawwlllliiiiiiing.
 
Likes: Linschoten
#43
Yeah, I agree.

Haha! I also have a bit of a contrarian streak. Not to drone on about it (I mean it wasn't an awful book), but the amount of good reviews Azoulay's Pericles received from so many of the big names like Cartledge, Raaflaub etc. couldn't help but make me think... Perhaps a traditional, more clear cut account is often looked upon as somehow more contrarian than an account which aims to be "critical".

I'd like to think so, perhaps partially because it allows me to settle my desire to be right with my desire to provoke with minimal cognitive dissonance... :p
There is incentive to being critical. You're more likely to be referenced and more likely to have your book published by a more prestigious publisher if you've offered something that is clearly new. There's also the natural desire to avoid appearing derivative. That being said, there is quite a lot in history worth criticizing and many debates to be had. But I enjoy a good story as well. Some historians are skilled at combining both approaches.
 
Apr 2018
979
Upland, Sweden
#44
There is incentive to being critical. You're more likely to be referenced and more likely to have your book published by a more prestigious publisher if you've offered something that is clearly new. There's also the natural desire to avoid appearing derivative. That being said, there is quite a lot in history worth criticizing and many debates to be had. But I enjoy a good story as well. Some historians are skilled at combining both approaches.
Indeed.
 
Aug 2018
372
Southern Indiana
#46
I watched part of a "documentary" the other day "1804 The Hidden History of Haiti" by Tariq Nasheed. It was more of a black/ Haitian pride piece than a documentary, containing claims made by rappers and other non-academics about African tribes inhabiting and trading with the new world before Columbus.
 
Sep 2016
1,113
Georgia
#47
That said, Badian's slashing review was a disgrace, it wasn't necessary for him to set out to humiliate Lane Fox in that way, and he plainly gained too much enjoyment from doing so which doesn't speak well for him.

I'm afraid that I find Lane Fox's books dull, I've never managed to get through one!
Lane Fox brought it on himself with his attitude towards W.W. Tarn and ,, The author claims to have read I,472 books and articles, most of them useless."
 
Aug 2010
16,159
Welsh Marches
#48
That doesn't excuse the sheer nastiness of that review. Badian had a reputation for sounding off against people whom he disagreed with, although he was also capable of great kindness. An odd man altogether, he seems to have become embittered in the latter part of his life, and part of the bile in that review may have been prompted his own failure to produce a book of his own on Alexander that would have satisfied his standards.

From the end of the article about him at the British Academy site (which is very frank and revealing):

"The most marked of his eccentricities was his passion for parrots, part of a larger interest in the animal kingdom which, according to Carol Thomas, led him to many a zoo. At one point there were as many as seven parrots in residence; whether their claws were as sharp as their master’s is not recorded."

Badian, Ernst, 1925-2011
 
Likes: Gvelion

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