As Napoleon himself once said, 'History is a version of past events that people have decided to agree upon'.
Noted down in historical documents, copied and widely repeated, it doesn't take long for a version of the truth to become accepted as fact. But who invents these false accounts in the first place, and why do they gain traction so quickly?
Far from concerning the obscure and insignificant parts of our history, these fundamental inaccuracies and downright lies colour the depiction of many of those pivotal characters and events we learnt about at school. Cleopatra, Marco Polo, Captain Cook, Joan of Arc; most of us could probably reel off a fact or two about each. But as this intriguing book reveals, a closer examination of these core parts of our social and political history shows that often all was not as it seemed, and that the agendas of those responsible for recording these events had a huge impact on what was reported and what was covered up.
The Mysteries of History is an entertaining romp through the centuries, uncovering the great mysteries surrounding some of the most inaccurate and misleading parts of our past.
Graeme Donald is the author of a number of books about history, the meaning of words and popular misconceptions, including When the Earth was Flat, The Accidental Scientist, The Long and the Short of It and Learn on the Loo. His writing has also appeared in many newspapers.