Historical Fiction

When I was in high school, I didn’t learn a whole lot of history. Oh, the history teachers did their jobs, mostly, but I wasn’t interested. I didn’t pay much attention, so it didn’t stick. This leaves me terribly uneducated. As George Santayana said, “those who can’t remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” Despite that motivation, a dry list of dates and names still doesn’t hold my attention. Happily, though, a friend introduced me to really good historical fiction. My favorite author in the genre is a historian, and he diligently shows how he conducted his research in the non-fiction notes. He tends to focus on about four people on both sides of a war, and also gives a valuable non-fiction account of each person’s activities. But then he takes his research of letters and journals of the main figures and those around them to build an understanding of those figures as real people. He creates his stories around those characters, and he’s a great story-teller as well. The combination of a good story-teller who also reliably gets the history right is impressive. It isn’t a complete study of history, but it’s a good place to start.

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