Monday, 27 September 2010

History, Hollywood and the Battle of Thermopylae

The family sat griped last night as the story of 300 unfolded on the big screen.  Now don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with the film, although it was difficult at times to tell what was real and what was computer generated, what does bother me however is the rewriting of history according to Hollywood.

The film 300 tells the story of King Leonides of Sparta who fought to hold off the Persian invasion of Greece in 480BC. This is accurate up to a point, but the film does not give the context of this in relation to the history of Europe or the impact that this battle had on the world we live in today.

The Battle of Thermopylae, is in  fact, a well known fight both historicallyand militarily as it illustrates how important training, equipment and the use of the terrain is in warfare.  Indeed, it has become a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds.

Full details of the battle can be found on Wikipedia at Battle of Thermopylae

But this is only an example I worry that people, especially our children, will get a very distorted understanding of history if all they see is the Hollywood version.  History will become a series of glorified snap shots with nothing linking them to the real events.  So I was absolutely delighted to find the book "A Little History of the World" written in 1935 by Ernst Gombich which chronicles human development from the inventions of cavemen to the end results of the First World War. The book is a pleasure to read and since it was written originally for children, it manages to present the information in a way that is both interesting and detailed.

So, if your history is like mine which starts with the Italian Renaissance, skips through the Tudors and ends with Charles II, then I really recommend reading this book.

More details can be found on Wikipedia at A Little History of the World

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