Review: Fake History by Otto English

History / Wed 4th May 2022 pm31 01:06pm

By Natalie Hayes

MY mum’s side of my family has a long-held belief that my estranged father has an unsavoury relation. No need to dwell on the identity of this relation; let’s just say, all that Glitters is not gold.

I’ve done a small amount of digging and haven’t been able to find any proof that this person is closely related to me, although I certainly didn’t look that hard and I don’t think I’d want to know if he were.

However I’m sure that, in the 70s, my father’s family would have fallen over themselves to be connected to him. By the late 90s, of course, the claim to fame would have been conveniently forgotten.

My family lore reflects one of the points made by Otto English in his book Fake History; that hyperbole masquerading as legend can take root as what he refers to as a ‘Fake Family Saga’. More ominously, however, such stories can also grow exponentially as great, sweeping lies that live as fact in the subconsciouses of millions and subvert the collective understanding. Therein lies the danger, and it’s a danger that is exacerbated by the lack of critical literacy included in the British curriculum. As a nation, we have not been taught how to look past sensationalist headlines and the simplification of messages, or how to question sources of information.

Fake History addresses ten of modern history’s most egregious ‘alternative facts’, and how the fatal combination of nationalism and history as written by the victors (itself a quote often wrongly attributed to the star of the first chapter, Winston Churchill) has created a national saga that our identity as Britons is built on, but that is often just plain wrong.

Written in an engaging and conversational tone, English unpacks fabrications from history using exhaustive research and common sense. This book is an accessible starter guide for those who want to understand how and why we as consumers of information need to think critically about how campfire stories snowball into untouchable legends.

Published by Welbeck, now available in paperback.

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8 Comments for Review: Fake History by Otto English:

James Walton
2022-05-06 06:21:45

One of the worst books written. We know English's (not even his real name)views. He constantly bemoans brexit comments that the English in post war Britain mostly ate shit. Then there is the "Ten great lies" . English says that the first lie is "Churchill was Britain's greatest prime minister " Now that is an opinion so it can't be proved a lie. It's a nonsense book built on anti Englishness. It's lazy nonsense History is very complicated. This is probably the most telling quote though regarding history. "History has been written by white males, about white males, for white males". It's nauseating crap and you wonder how much longer this type of nonsense can go on

2022-05-06 09:52:57

James above virtually felates Otto so much that I'm surprised his jaws haven't siezed up.

Not a Gammon
2022-05-06 12:02:31

I purchased this book purely based on the comment left here by James Walton. Anything that upsets the likes of him, must be worth reading.

2022-05-07 07:51:40

Thanks James. I’d too been meaning to buy his book but hadn’t got round to it. Reading your review this morning pushed me to finally order a copy.

Neil Mullens
2022-05-07 07:53:06

Great review. James Walton’s comment, in particular, made me go straight out and buy the book. Thanks, James!

James Walton
2022-05-07 10:47:35

How many your harlow handles have you got Mr Gordon?

Truth hurts
2022-05-09 14:37:00

Fantastic book. After each chapter I read the above comment from James Walton and it fills me with a warm, non-gammony glow.

Nick da Wink
2022-05-09 14:38:26

I gave English's book 4 out of 5 stars. I knocked off one star for mentioning Farage a little too often. Whilst there are blatant parallels between the populist deceits of recent times, with the bending of historical truths & mythologising of historical non-events, I would have enjoyed the book yet more without reading of the inveterate dinghy watcher. Great read though, and very illuminating.

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