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History and Other Lies

Historical fiction's appeal to me is its ability to simultaneously inform about the past

and entertain with a good story. History, knowledge and systematic study from inquiry,

is a set of written verifiable facts arranged to suit a point of view. But the author's decision

of which facts to include and which to omit gives it an unavoidable cultural bias.

As Napoleon bluntly put it, "History is a set of lies, agreed upon."

Paul Delaroche Artist
Napoleon Bonaparte 1814

More to the point is historian

David McCulloch's definition, "History is who we are and why we are the way we are."

While history tells us about past events, historical fiction opens a door to the past and invites us in to see for ourselves, often through the senses of a participant. It doesn't presume to replace academic history. Historical fiction can adhere closely to real events or use them as a setting, a sense of place for a more personal story. It can incorporate real

figures or not, or add "what if" elements, alternate views of what might have taken place. For an author, the door to possibilities is wide open.

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