Past Mistakes: How We Misinterpret History and Why It Matters

Regular price $ 17.95

by David Mountain

Icon Books

2/15/2022, paperback

SKU: 9781785786907


The stories we tell about our past matter. But those stories have been shaped by prejudice, hoaxes and misinterpretations that have whitewashed entire chapters of history, erased women and invented civilizations. Today history is often used to justify xenophobia, nationalism and inequality as we cling to grand origin stories and heroic tales of extraordinary men.

Exploring myths, mysteries and misconceptions about the past - from the legacies of figures like Pythagoras and Christopher Columbus, to the realities of life in the gun-toting Wild West, to the archaeological digs that have upset our understanding of the birth of civilization - David Mountain reveals how ongoing revolutions in history and archaeology are shedding light on the truth.

Full of adventures, and based on detailed research and interviews, Past Mistakes will make you reconsider your understanding of history - and of the world today.

From the fall of Rome to the rise of the Wild West, David Mountain brings color and perspective to historical myth-making.


"A welcome ally in the fight against fake history" -Eleanor Janega, author of The Middle Ages: A Graphic History

"Whether discussing Pythagoras' legacy, Athenian democracy, the myth of Progress, or the Wild West, Mountain quickly points out how the truth is more nuanced than--or completely different from--stories we may know. ... the work's main thrust is the conversation between present and past and how our view of the past influences current behavior--most clearly outlined in a chapter about the Wild West mythos shaping American gun culture to this day."

"Past Mistakes takes what we think we remember from history class and sets the record straight! Definitely worth reading if you're ready to have your mind blown and then be filled with rage that you've been hoodwinked for this long."

About the Author:

David Mountain is a writer, speaker and editor, based in Edinburgh. After working as a scientific editor at an environmental NGO, he studied the politics of nationalism at the University of Edinburgh and now writes about history, politics and philosophy. This is his first book.