'MacMillan has written illuminatingly on topics as diverse as the 1919 Paris peace conference and Nixon in China. Perhaps more unusually she is also a gifted writer, and her account of the various uses of history is wonderfully accessible. Her message - that we cannot help invoking the past when we try to shape the future, but should use it with due caution and humility - is a salutary one for politicians'John Gray
The past is capricious enough to support every stance - no matter how questionable. In 2002, the Bush administration decided that dealing with Saddam Hussein was like appeasing Hitler or Mussolini, and promptly invaded Iraq. Were they wrong to look to history for guidance? No; their mistake was to exaggerate one of its lessons while suppressing others of equal importance. History is often hijacked through suppression, manipulation, and, sometimes, even outright deception. MacMillan's book is packed full of examples of the abuses of history. In response, she urges us to treat the past with care and respect.
Margaret MacMillan is the author ofWomen of the Rajand international bestsellersNixon in ChinaandPeacemakers: TheParis Conference 1919 and Its Attempt to End the War. The past provost of Trinity College at the University of Toronto, she is now the warden of St. Antony's College at Oxford University.
'No history lover should fail to digest the lessons of this short but brilliant book.', Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph
'A magnificent book, wise and timely', Tribune
'This is history used as its own best argument', Toronto Sun
'Swift and bracing', Independent