The following is an essay written in 2010 for the hardcover edition's release that appeared at The Rap Sheet.
It’s been said that history is written by the winners. It might as easily be said that history is written by people with agendas. As a career journalist, it pains me to say this, but I just don’t trust a lot of the history I read.
Journalists are, by reputation, a cynical breed. “If your mother says she loves you, go and find a second source,” an old journalism saying goes. I came to my own cynicism about the reliability of received history at an early age.
Never much of a science or math student, I was that kid who always had his nose stuck in a book; that kid who lived mostly in his head.
My tastes, from the get-go, ran to pulpy crime fiction and selected slices of 20th-century history. No generalist, I tended to get obsessed with a person or specific historical event and read everything I could find about that particular preoccupation that fleetingly fired my imagination.
Reading history in that intense and idiosyncratic way, from very early on, I started to notice contradictions--some fairly profound. It seemed that for these historians, nailing down even a single event in a definitive way was a task nearly as elusive as trying to nail down mercury.
History, I came to decide, was a quicksilver and frequently treacherous thing. In my new novel, Print the Legend, my continuing character, Hector Lassiter, remarks that “Historical events ... are too often symptomatic of deeper, darker machinations hatched by conspiring men and devious cabals with impossible-to-fathom aims.”
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