Dead Certainties

Dead Certainties is a curious book. The back cover proclaims it to be "a dazzling and supremely vital work of historical imagination". To be honest, this baffled the shit out of me when I started to read it as I couldn't work out the book's purpose. This is a bit worrying given that I'm in at least the top 10% of the world when it comes to intelligence.

I think I figured it out. Schama reconstructs two stories from history from different sources, and I believe the point is that no-one knows for sure. He used two stories, the death of General Wolfe and a murder in Boston. I think he should have just gone with the murder as a novel as the death of the General is less than a quarter of the book, and it seems strange to have such a short example followed up by a long one.

I did really enjoy the account of the murder and subsequent trial, it was a very interesting mystery drama - another reason why I think it should have just been this story in the book. I especially liked it as there is no way I would have known about this story any other way, so I'm glad I read the book.

I'm just still a little puzzled as to what the supremely vital part of it was.


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