• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Uses and Abuses of History - Margaret Macmillan

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Does history have a use beyond understanding the past? According to Margaret MacMillan, history enables humans to understand each other and to prevent the repetition of past mistakes. However, the value of history is limited to the accuracy of its interpretation. Although history is often a guide and friend, it can be harmful if used improperly, which is why MacMillan's book is appropriately entitled The Uses and Abuses of History. History is valuable because it allows humans to understand each other. For example, the Cold War (1946-1992) was dangerous because neither side understood the other. The Americans believed the Soviets wanted world domination when their motives were traditional Russian ones, dictated by their history of being invaded repeatedly (156). The Communists assumed that capitalist countries would attack them, even though western intervention was supported half-heartedly by politicians like Winston Churchill1, who had little appetite for conflict by the end of the First World War (156, 158). ...read more.

Middle

History reminds humans to learn from disastrous events in the past and warns humans against repeating them. The Great Depression, which rendered the League of Nations obsolete, taught the United Nations to create The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the International Trade Organization (164). Consequently, there has not been a reoccurrence of the 1930s to this day (164). Furthermore, in 1979, Soviet troops positioned in Cuba brought back vivid memories of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 (165). It was later discovered that the troops from 1962 were never relocated because Kennedy3 had not insisted on their removal (166). Soviet and American relations deteriorated further because the Russians had not learned from the events of 1962. In addition, the Americans failed to apply the counter-insurgency techniques acquired from the Vietnam War to the first two years of the War in Iraq (170). ...read more.

Conclusion

When Anthony Eden6 applied the lesson to the Suez Canal Crisis, an international calamity transpired (177). Nasser7 was not an aggressor like Hitler. He was a nationalist, who wanted to regain control of the Suez Canal so he could acquire the resources to develop Egypt (178). By interpreting Munich as a comparable event as the Suez Canal Crisis, Eden misused history. These two examples illustrate how the unsuccessful interpretation of history can result in tragedies such as an unprepared defence or an international crisis. History is a guide and a friend because it teaches humility and scepticism, but humans can also abuse history by using it to justify what is already believed to be true. In addition, humans must beware of grand claims in history's name as well as historical explanations that oversimplify the problem. In conclusion, history should be used, and enjoyed, but must be handled with care. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate History section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate History essays

  1. Investigation: The Cuban Missile Crisis as a Thaw in the Cold War

    As it stands, the Soviet Union had to build up their nuclear arsenal to combat the United States monopoly, making the United States spy with U-2 photographic missions to keep tabs on this build up. The missions caused conflict and showed that the United States was willing to mettle in Russian affairs, prompting the Kennan policy of containment.

  2. Gulf of Tonkin History IA

    Johnson, stating to bombard Vietnam. According to the Admiral, the strikes' purpose were reprisal. Which confused him since nothing had happened. "we were about to launch a war under false pretenses, in the face of the on-scene military commander's advice to the contrary..."13 the following excerpt is from a conversation between President Lyndon B.

  1. Cold War Study Guide - Compare/contrast the Vietnam War policies of Lyndon Johnson and ...

    was not honest with the public, which did no good for his reputation and trust with the public. - The 1970 election in Chile was also a large part of Richard Nixon's foreign affairs. Nixon utilized the CIA, but covered it up so that the public would not find out about his actions.

  2. Free essay

    IB I.A History Emiliano Zapata

    given the reader an insight on the ideas of the working class during that time. Zapata was considered to be a simple man but strongly approved for land reform in Mexico even before the revolution started. Like many of his followers the plan de Ayala signifies the believes of the southern Revolution and this plan was followed by many.

  1. The History Of The Vietnam War

    The success of the 1945 revolution was a result of the work of the Vietminh and the popular support it had attracted, but it was also a product of timing. Japan had been defeated in World War II, and France had yet to send soldiers and personnel back to Vietnam to retake its lost colony.(Schoenbrun 20)

  2. Neville Chamberlain and Appeasement

    Chamberlain provided Hitler with the opportunity of the Anschluss of Austria, as his respect for Chamberlain had diminished greatly by his nature of drifting along. Chamberlain, who were obviously in distress, were still convinced that good relations with Hitler would prove rewarding: "It was the general belief, though less sustained

  1. IB History HL, Extended Notes: Russia, the Tsars, the Provisional Govenment and the Revolution.

    Terms 1. Russia lost 25% of its territory, 1/3 of its population, over 50% of industry, and 80% of its coalmines. 2. 6 billion marks of reparations. Consequences 1. Gave Russia time for consolidation at a critical stage. Economic gains of Central powers less than expected, returning German prisoners experienced revolution.

  2. Extended Essay - The Role of a UN-Secretary General to Achieve World Peace: The ...

    Z.K.Z: How do you think the world, including you, view this man? T.N: U Thant, through bringing resolutions to international conflicts, has gained immense popularity from many nations. However, with the disappointment he has caused in the Arab-Israel conflict and his negative view towards the Americans' attack on Vietnam, his relationships with Israel and the US deteriorated rapidly.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work