Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Read THIS not THAT! - Historical

So maybe this would have been more appropriate for Independence Day, but whatevs .... so, you want to read historical fiction but you're like me- a stickler for books that are HISTORICALLY ACCURATE - it is amazing how many authors just don't do they homework and get their historical facts all mixed up or in some cases completely made-up! To save you the trouble, here are some popular 'historical' books that are utter garbage.


The Da Vinci Code  plain and simple, is FULL of mistakes regarding Christianity, Christian artifacts, classical artwork and not to mention he even makes up his own Harvard degree for his main character Robert Langdon- a Doctorate in Religious Symbology- whatever the fuck that is. Not only is the plot riddled with historically inaccuracies, but the book is written so formulaic and at such an easy reading level that when I was slogging through it, I felt a little insulted. I realize that not everyone has a degree in history, but I would hope that most people would be intelligent enough to not have the entire plot spoon-fed to them; given the series' popularity, it doesn't seem to be the case. The movie isn't any better. Just avoid Dan Brown entirely.

The Other Boleyn Girl was a huge Hollywood sensation about a year back about one of the sisters of Anne Boleyn, you know the woman famous for getting her head chopped off by King Henry VIII? Basically the plot of this story is that 'Mary Boleyn' falls ohmygosh in love with the 'incredibly attractive King Henry VIII and must compete with her sister Anne for his affections. Guys, there is nothing romantic about King Henry VIII. He was a warmongering fat slob who only wanted someone to give him a boy to rule the country after him. I don't know why Philippa Gregory turns him into every woman's dreams, but TRUST ME, even if he is a king; you don't want him to be your husband. The only redeeming factor of this book is that if you are familiar with the real Henry VIII at all this book is absolutely hysterical. Philippa Gregory, stop using history for trashy romances.

The Day No Pigs Would Die is COMPLETELY false. Everything Peck says about the Shaker and Quaker culture in this book is pure bullshit. NONE of it EVER existed EVER. Why he didn't do his homework before writing this? - the world will never know. But it pisses me off SO MUCH that he wrote this, and now I see it on all of the required reading lists for kids....


The Jungle is admittedly not my favorite book, but it is one of the most influential books of our time as seen in my previous post here. This is one of those historical novels I think most people should be required to read but sadly aren't. The focus of this book is immigrant workers and the horrible conditions that they are forced to work in for horrible salaries; essentially, this book is about the people who are the backbone of America and the fight for workers' rights. There is a little bit of a love story thrown in here too for all you romance fanatics. The reason most people respect this book is because of its' eye-opening glance at the meat processing industry and the revolutionary changes in food preparation that it made. Don't let that alone fool you though- this book is far more historical and humanist than it is meant to gross you out.

The Pillars of the Earth is one of those books that I have a paperback of, mean to get started on, but just haven't... because when it comes to selecting books to read, I have the attention span of a hyperactive toddler with ADD. I see a shiny new book. I forget I have books waiting to be read. I start the new book instead. I have heard many many many great reviews about this book and its' accuracy though so... I'm kind of crossing my  fingers they are right ._. ....

First Man in Rome is the first book in the masterfully crafted 'Masters of Rome' series written by Colleen McCullough. The best news is that McCullough is an actual historian and her area of expertise is Greco-Roman history, so that's almost a guarantee that she has done her homework to make her novels as accurate as they can be. Granted, she does have to take liberties with some of the characters' emotions and dialogues, etc. but that's the reason we read historical fiction isn't it? -to answer that 'if Caesar were alive today, what would he be like as a person? and would he demand royalties from the Caesar's Palace casino for using his likeness?' (a book hasn't been written on that yet, but if you plan to do so, tell me so I can buy a copy). Masters of Rome is hands-down the best historical fiction I have read to date.

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