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Did you ever notice about history?

I was a story and political science major in college which was a long time ago. Since then I have noticed that history especially seems always to be writtten from the perspective of the winner. In the 54years since I graduated i have been looking for a history book that told both sides of the story and have yet to find one that does so.I am very disappointed in this regard because i believe both sides have something of value to offer the researcher.Wouldn't it be great if the history books started giving both sides?

Marine 8 Sep 2

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Have not seen a book with that point of view. If you watch The history of beer it reveals the other perspective.


And from the make persepctive, white males in particular. It is always interesting to read the letters that women wrote during the time of the Revolution and the Civil War. It gives you a different perspective.


History is written by the victors. ~ Winston Churchill

So true.


Longstanding truism is that "history is written by the victors". But it is actually a greater truism that history shaped and handed down in consumable form by those in power. Gender centric, religio centric, racist, classicist. Goes on and on. We have only recently begun to become aware of this (in historical terms) and I would highly recommend consuming any "history" with a highly critical eye.


It is as it always has been. Pretty hard to write and keep your history when you're ground to dust under the feet of your conquerer.

We live in quite a different world now though. Its getting harder to hide the truth thankfully. It's still far from perfect.


I had a history professor in college who told us that history is based on one-sided facts. Essentially, what we know about history has been told from one perspective or similar perspectives (the winning side as you put it), and it's the job of historians to research these civilizations and conflicts to come up with their own understanding of what happened. If enough historians agree on something, then that becomes a "historical fact." Up until then, I thought history was set in stone and always true, but historians always need to question our past to make sure it is accurate.


Of course. "History is written by the victor" is an old and very true saying. It's our job as historians to dig deeper, find the truth and share it for those who will listen.

Jnei Level 8 Sep 5, 2018

In Winners and Other Losers in War And Peace by the late Arnold Arnold he clearly exposes the zero-sum game and incontrovertibly demonstrates that all games are not won by superior tact, skill or ability, except in very limited circumstances, viz, I step into a boxing ring with Mike Tyson.

All games have deliberately skewed odds that favor a winning outcome as in the best of three, five or seven sets in a game. However, when you match two players of equal skill and ability and change the odds to the best of four, six or eight sets, a different outcome emerges, a drawn game. The only way that you can win in any game or gamelike situation is by taking advantage of the other person's mistakes or inducing a mistake that gives you an advantage.

Nice part at the end about inducing a mistake that gives an advantage. This is a strategy that sometimes backfires too though. It's the thrill of the game betting on chance or odds. I play the card game Casino and this is a move that can put you ahead with points if it works out. Off topic but had to mention.


I asked someone what time period he'd like to visit and why. He said he'd like to meet Francis Drake, he was from his home town and a hero.

The name sounded familiar to me, I didn't know why. So I looked him up, my side of history (Growing up in Puerto Rico) he was known as El Drake. His victories were not victories to us, he was more like a pirate in the Caribbean. He didn't make it to Puerto Rico, but he got Española, San Augustin and others. It was interesting to think of...

The losers need to publish...before their perspective is forgotten... This is happening in Hawaii right now. Check out @MKeaMan...Ku Ching is in there helping rewrite history now.

@MissKathleen After an illegal overthrow, and fictitious annexation over 125 years ago - the "truth" of the occupation of Hawai'i is starting to be told globally. And Hawaiians are beginning to demand a say in how our stolen lands are to be managed and administered, with anticipation of having those lands returned to its real owners. The disguise of an illegitimate succession of the Hawaiian Kingdom is being torn apart one piece at a time. The truth of a continuing Hawaiian Kingdom - intended to be subverted by substituting for its lawful government by insurgents - is in the process of reversal. I am hopefully playing a small part in the process. Thanks Kathleen for your very important support.. Mauna Kea is of iconic and symbolic significance to transformation! And the 30 Meter Telescope (TMT) struggle is an important, presently ongoing, battleground. See []
I am "Clarence Ching" in the article.

@mkeaman I am so glad you finally said something to begin telling these kind people about this issue. I hope you will begin to make general posts, as you do on facebook, so people start to understand the truth about Hawaii and its rich culture.


While I tend to agree with the trope, I do think it is an oversimplification. History is a mess and can be nuanced. The trouble is history as taught in schools and as commonly shared - popular history for lack of a better word - is often oversimplified into headlines and factoids without any of the qualifiers. Where I agree with the trope is that it is the victor often that is trimming out the width and breadth of a story resulting in the one-dimensional over-simplification. In other words, what might be called popular history has very little bearing on hardcore history as practiced. There are rough analogues here between popular science and hardcore science as practiced.

A fascinating book to read is Lying about Hitler by Richard Evans outlining the defense of Penguin Books UK and Deborah Lipstadt who had been sued by David Irving for libel. Lipstadt had called Irving a Holocaust denier and was sued as a result. The book is a great overview of how Irving's writings distort history by detailing how historians do work to understand the past.

Another good read is Hitler Homer Bible Christ by Richard Carrier as the first part of that book also explains the historian's craft.

Continuing the analogue between between popular science and popular history, I less certain about the idea that history books should start given both sides of a debate. Much as teach the controversy is trying to poison science, we need to be careful of allowing a bogus controversy in history (eg holocaust denialism, The Glorioius Cause, etc) to taint our understanding of history. I do agree that history books should lay out the facts (scant as they are) that are the basis for the conclusions made and by continual peer review of facts, new sources, additional perspectives will continue the arc towards a greater understanding of our history.

Finally, I am surprised no one has yet mentioned Lies my Teacher Told Me by James Loewen as one of the more popular expositions on distortions in our History textbooks and what should be done about it.

My ex-SIL was a primary and middle school teacher. History was among the subjects she taught. She told me how much lies are in the books from which she had to teach...she would always tell the kids what the lies were. She left teaching and became a tax assessor, lol.


All history is full of bias from the telling side.


If you watch the NPR Vietnam series by Ken Burns it is one of the most unbiased history documentaries I have ever watched (10 hours worth!). During the course of the series, who’s timeline starts in the very early 20th century history of Vietnam, he interviews and documents the stories of Vietnamese, French and American civilians, soldiers and leaders. His interviews include American soldiers and war protestors, Vietcong, North Vietnamese Regular army, South Vietnamese army soldiers and civilians. It’s a shame more effort to do this with other wars was not made. I think Ken Burns did documentary films on World War II and the Civil War, but I am not sure they are as inclusive. And sadly he received flak from certain groups in our country for humanizing the Vietnamese and not aggrandizing the US role in the destruction of this country. That ideology is the reason history books are usually very one sided.


Unfortunately, "history" is much too often contaminated by the "politics, egotism and arrogance" of the "winner".


If you want a cool American History book tht tells both sides I would recommend Jon Stewart's 'America' 2004, or The People's History by Howard Zinn 1980. 'The People's History is amazing, and Jon's book is factual and hilariously presented.

+1 for The Peoples History, it was actually one of the texts for a social work class.

@MacTavish Thanks, I just read it cause I wanted to hear a balanced version of history. I like to use my library card



It's an oft said phrase 'History is written by the winners' but I suspect that with so many platforms for getting a message out that this will change over time.


Dan Carlins podcast Hardcore History is a series of long 3-5 hour epics that tend to cover multiple sides of History in an enlightening way.


Did you see that series on the History Channel about our history from the Native Americans point of view? Very interesting and eye opening.

I'll have to check that out.

No, I will have to look for it.


Don't think you will ever find it in the same book.
The truth is generally harder to get.


I actually did have a history book that presented several sides of different famous events in history. I wish I could remember the name. I read this book in college. It was written much to your point though - to educate people about how history as it is presented is actually a viewpoint, and that viewpoint belongs to someone and viewpoints are almost always skewed. Usually the winner is in a better position to share their side of things.

I would appreciate the title if you can recall it

@Marine I don't recall, but I can try to check my college transcript. If I get the name of the professor off of it, then I might be able to find out. I'm afraid my syllabuses are long gone


History is written by the victor. It is known.


Yes if you were to look at the celts ; they were not as blood thirsty as the romans made them out to be history seems to be told by the conquerors not the conquered .


The losers seldom live to write their side. Such mercy is a relatively new thing.


This has always been true. And there are way more than two sides to a story.


I wish they would teach real history in school, not the white-washed, Pollyanna version of it.


Location, location, location... you were a political science major... example: the Mexican story on the Alamo claims 6 to 8 surrendered and were Executed... among them davy crockett. The Alamo history known to ameriKKKans was created/promulgated later.

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