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History's Greatest Lies by William Weir

History's Greatest Lies (2009)

by William Weir

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Discover the stories behind history's greatest lies and how - and why - the world's biggest whoppers have survived in history textbooks and lesson plans for years. For instance, did you know the conquistador Hernan Cortes wasn't as bloodthirsty as they say? Neither were the Goths, who were actually the most progressive of the Germanic tribes. Or, that a petty criminal with a resemblance to John Dillinger was probably assassinated instead of the notorious bank robber?
In History's Greatest Lies: The Startling Truth Behind World Events Our History Books Got Wrong , Weir sets the record straight through a fascinating examination of historical lies and myths and the true stories behind them. Each chapter pinpoints a misconception held as common truth in history.

For Example:
* Emperor Nero did not fiddle as Rome burned.
He actually ran through the districts to offer aid to those in need. The fiddle myth began thanks to his critics - and the Roman public - who believed Nero to be ineffectual and murderous. And he may have been that. But even so, the fiddle wasn't invented until the 16th century.
*Paul Revere had plenty of help in his midnight ride.
Dozens of men who were part of a vast organization, the American militia, pitched in to bring out thousands of armed men to fight the British at Concord. He was also partly aided by the British themselves, who had released him after a short stint of captivity.
*In terms of prisons, the Bastille wasn't all that bad.
The Freedom-loving angry mob was probably a little miffed at finding only seven prisoners with its walls. - two of whom were insane. Although the Bastille was a symbol of the tyrannical rule of the time, those storming the fortress really just wanted the gunpowder it stored. the king had largely improved the conditions of the prison before this event, so that it was more of a luxury hotel than a dreary dungeon.

Weir explains why each lie persevered in our minds through ulterior motives, responsibility shirking, or exaggerations. You'll also discover the common threads that make up these falsehoods: the scapegoats, the spin needed to cast undeserving in a better light, and the some frightful oversimplification of facts.
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Goes behind the scenes of historical myths, legends, and events to set the record straight about historical inaccuracies and lies, ranging from the truth about the crusades to the real motives behind the Vietnam War.

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