That’s from the BBC History page:
THEY’VE been the main spreaders of this concept for decades.
It’s what I learned in school. Also influenced by the same BBC history that once had categories of “Dark” and “Middle” ages, long after historians had abandoned the terms.
Even now, they cling slightly onto antiquated ideas.
Granted, BBC does do a great job with many things but a balanced view of history they do not. Comparing and contrasting with other versions of history and you start to see their biases very quickly.
You can accept it if you wish.
But what makes *this* encyclopedia of wars _DIFFERENT_ is its completeness.
He’s not weaving together a marvelous tale (which always ends up in the Glory of Britannia as the final result) – but rather an analysis of each war from various perspectives. It’s an academic resource, not weaving together documentary fairy tales.
I like the BBC – they tell good stories. And of course bias-free history is currently impossible. But, my thing is, Brett – watch the narrative. If you’re hearing a consistent perspective repeated frequently, try to find other ones.
Find things that are more data than story. Not that it’s a fix either because data can be problematic as well, especially in its interpretation. This could be an example of that. I don’t know.
I’ve done some analysis of BBC history’s bias in the past – but I haven’t done so for the Infoplease / Facts on File people.
Maybe they have an agenda too – either overt, covert, maybe even unaware of it themselves, or maybe they have none. I don’t know yet.
I don’t know if the text looked for pure holy wars or partial – it’s just, to me, the old story, “Most wars are caused by religion” seems to have a much weaker case than it once did. I’m hoping it’s due to better scholarship. I don’t know.
I’ll scrutinize the infoplease/facts on file people and see if there’s some obvious bias there as well. It’s only fair.
Ok. I discovered: Facts on File is a part of Infoplease which is supported by Pearson, the textbook maker for US schools.
They’re not without controversy – charges over their portrayals of history are always being fought about: most recently, some groups claim they have a pro-islamic bias, others claim they have a pro-Christian bias, back and forth it goes and such is expected.
So, it seems the publishers attempt at objectivity but aren’t always successful. Since they’re in the business of facts, they do try, although I have some criticisms about Pearson myself and the very dry way they tend to teach history and other subjects. But perhaps dry is best. “just the facts”. BBC is far more colorful and interesting.
So, I went to the main author, Axelrod. He’s definitely a historian and well respected and writes… a.. LOT…
I’m looking for complaints of bias in his work: People _will_ complain and do complain when they see issues (whether or not their complaints are valid is another story) – but it’s something to work with. I’ll see what I can find.
I saw some complaints in one of his books that he appears to have an anti-Bush bias. Another complained that he used BCE instead of BC. Otherwise, I could find few complaints of bias in his work. This isn’t authoritative, but we’re in the subtle-areas dept.
Now, if you’re going to write information that gets put into textbooks from kindergarten through high school in the USA, separation of church + state is a pretty big thing to keep in mind and be aware of.
Histories written for Great Britain do _not_ have to worry about a separation of church + state (obviously) and so are more free to speculate in less than crystal clear areas.
So, depictions of the same events will appear to be quite different.
Who is doing it right? I don’t know. But the differences are intriguing.