Find it In “A Short History of the World in 50 Lies”

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

From the deeply confusing and weird to the completely horrifying, Natasha Tidd presents “A Short History of the World in 50 Lies.” Who doesn’t wonder what lies we’ve all been told about history? Well, inside the pages of this book, you can find out.

About the Book

On this global journey through human history, you’ll discover that the truth really is stranger–and far more dangerous–than any fiction.

In the newest installment of publisher Michael O’Mara Books’ “A Short History of the World in 50…” series, Natasha Tidd examines how lies can change the world, from Julius Caesar’s deceptive PR machine to the cover-ups that caused Chernobyl.

Spanning forgeries that created centuries worth of conflict and domination, such as The Donation of Constantine, the Protocols of Zion and the mysterious Testament of Peter the Great, to mass political and press cover-ups including Britain’s Boer War concentration camps, a Pulitzer Prize-winning whitewash of the Ukraine Famine and the infamous Dreyfus Affair in France.

Meet incredible people, including Jeanne de Clisson who became the fourteenth century’s most feared pirate–all because of a lie–and discover how historic fibs and dubious retellings continue to affect our lives today.

My Review

If you love history, this is a fascinating and wonderful read. Almost every entry kept me on my toes, teaching me something I didn’t know. Even when I thought I knew a story – even a lie – Tidd revealed something about it I hadn’t heard before.

I’m not sure if Tidd was attempting to teach anything other than historical facts, but I definitely felt like I learned a little more. For example, one of the biggest lessons I took away was the old cliche – the more things change, the more they stay the same. Her entry on the “Spanish Flu” was chilling, and I couldn’t help but imagine how her entry several years from now focused on the Covid-19 pandemic might be similar.

Seeing how our Jewish brethren have been mistreated throughout history – beyond just the Holocaust with which we’re all familiar – was also disheartening to learn about, if unfortunately not surprising. The lies surrounding this mistreatment showed some of the deepest, darkest depths of human atrocity – but as with many other entries, they were mired in one of the worst of human traits – fear of the unknown. So many of the lies resulted from the fear caused by humans attempting to protect themselves from something or someone they didn’t understand, and there is absolutely a lesson to be learned there.

Recommended Audience

A few portions read a little like a textbook, but most of the book kept me engaged and wanting to know what would happen next – as though most of it hadn’t happened decades or centuries ago. This is a remarkable feat in a nonfiction history book, as much nonfiction writers have a hard time keeping readers – especially those of us that tend toward fiction books – engaged. If you enjoy history or conspiracy theories, I believe you’ll enjoy this book. And, if you enjoy reality shows with drama, lies, and intrigue, you might also enjoy this book – because the laundry list of lies creates a whole mess of that. There is violence, sex, mention of sexual assault, death, war, and a lot of other stuff that makes this book not appropriate for children. If your high school student is mature enough to be interested in this book, they’re probably good to read it because they’re being exposed to most of these concepts in history class, anyway.

I always enjoy flexing my mind, and brushing up on history – especially learning the facts behind some things I didn’t know – was an enjoyable experience. Thanks to @lovebooktours and the author for a copy of the e-book as part of the promotional tour for an honest review.

About the Author

Natasha Tidd is a historian and writer. The creator of the pop-history website, F Yeah History, Natasha is passionate about highlighting history’s under-sung stories and making history accessible to everyone. She works as a freelance history writer and researcher. Within academic research, Natasha specialises in gender and mental health history. This is her debut book.

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