Peter J. Beck
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Who reads academic histories? Should historians reach out more beyond academia to the general public? Why do Hollywood films, historical novels and television histories prove more successful in presenting the past to a wider audience? What can historians do to improve their effectiveness in reaching and engaging their target audience in a digital age? The way history is presented to an audience is often taken for granted, even ignored. Presenting History explores the vital role played by presenters in both establishing why history matters in today's world and communicating the past to audiences within and outside academia. Through case studies of leading historians, historical novelists, Hollywood filmmakers and television history presenters, this book looks critically at alternative literary and visual ways of presenting the past as both academic history and popular history. Historians discussed include Stephen Ambrose, Niall Ferguson, Eric Hobsbawm, Robert A. Rosenstone, Simon Schama, Joan Wallach Scott and A.J.P. Taylor. Chapter topics include Hollywood and history; Michael Bellesiles' controversial history of gun rights in the USA; Philippa Gregory's historical novels; historians and the David Irving trial; and Terry Deary's 'Horrible Histories'. Raising serious questions about the nature, study and communication of history, Presenting History is an essential text for historians and history students, as well as anyone involved in listening to, reading, or watching presenters of the past.