No matter how well-researched and written, their relentless agglomeration of samey details puts me off reading.
A lot of men never read fiction. I know many who've barely glanced at a novel since school. If sales are anything to go by, they like factual works: biography, sport, science, humour. And a lot of history.
And so it is that – as with so many other things – I find myself out of step with my fellow males. I just don't enjoy history books, though I've made an effort with quite a few. They're too literal and linear; I find that the vast majority simply spool out information, doggedly and relentlessly – and often very samey information at that.
For instance I bought, then started, then put down, The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt by Toby Wilkinson. Reviews had whetted my appetite: the strangeness of the culture, the fetish for monument, the eerie death cult. The Ancient Egyptians hardly seem to be the same species as us. A fascinating subject, then, and Wilkinson's book is brilliantly researched and cogently written. The problem is, it's all more-or-less the same stuff happening to people, over and over, for literally thousands of years.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
How facts spoil history books
The Guardian, UK (Darragh McManus)