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The Mysteries of History
Unravelling the Truth from the Myths of Our Past
Graeme Donald

Michael O’Mara Books
April 2018/ ISBN 9781782439028
NonFiction / Historical Study / Reference

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde


How were the pyramids and Easter Island’s moai constructed? Did Pope Joan and Tokyo Rose really exist? Who really “discovered” Australia and America? Forget what you think you know and find the real answers to these and other historical mysteries in here…

If history is written by the victors, myths and legends often seem to arise to fit our own wishes and desires. Reading this highly engaging and readable book I could see how our perception of the stories behind these mysteries certainly alters from age to age. Often the “true” story is more interesting than the legend, or at least it seems that way to modern people. In here you can discover who (apart from the Aborigines) arrived in Australia before Cook, the real culprit behind the Great Fire of Chicago, the astonishing story of Dr Crippen and the cursed-seeming history of the Marie Celeste. These accounts are grouped under broad categories such as religion, murder, conflict, discovery etc and each gives a succinct account of what we think we know and the truth. Some of these truths are points of view, as we can never truly know the fate of the Marie Celeste’s crew, discover if there was ever one real person behind the Robin Hood legend or even what Stonehenge was used for but some mysteries now have explanations. New things like DNA testing and advances in archaeology can tell us more than our ancesters knew but other interpretations are down to differing perspectives and values. Modern people are unlikely to view the Charge of the Light Brigade in the same way as Victorians, but the true stories of Dr Crippen and Iva Toguri’s “mistrials” appeal to our sense of outrage at an underdog getting set up for a fall by corrupt authorities. This is social history at its most enthralling and I would love to see a second volume.


Reviewed 2017