History was that subject in school that everyone hated – it was basically just mugging up pages and spilling them out on the exam paper. But history books – those are a different ballgame altogether. They’re rich and informative, and also very interesting. Some are re-imaginations of true events as in historical fiction while others are factual, as in non-fiction. Some of these books, however, reveal a part of history that has been shelved for too long, in a process called “archival violence.” Today, we take a look at books revealing shocking secrets from history and take some history lessons from novels.
List of Books Revealing Surprising Secrets From History | History Lessons From Novels:
- The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
- The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi
- The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self by Carl Trueman
- The Bone and Sinew of the Land by Anna-Lisa Cox
- A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell
- Endurance by Alfred Lansing
- Four Lost Cities by Annabel Newitz
- The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie
The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
The bestseller speculative historical fiction and Brown’s magnum opus follows Robert Langdon, a symbologist involved in a mystery. This novel follows the search for the Holy Grail, the legacy of Jesus Christ. Although the end of the novel is purely fictional and is subject to the criticism of many Christians, the facts surrounding the story are true and rare. This novel sheds light on lots of information about religious history that we’re unaware of.
The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi
This novel is perhaps the Indian counterpart of The DaVinci Code and follows historian Ravi Mohan Saini in his quest to find a relic that was Krishna’s most prized possession – the Krishna Key. In a parallel storyline, a serial killer believes that he is the final avatar of Krishna , Kalki . This wonderful story that takes us on a journey across the length and breadth of India also reveals plentiful secrets about history. Again, it is speculative fiction and one shouldn’t take it literally, but the quest to this fictional truth spills many secrets and ideas about history.
The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self by Carl Trueman
Partly a work of history and partly an analysis of the sexual revolution through the years and its effect on man’s identity, this novel tackles a theme that has been suppressed since time immemorial. His underlying thesis is this: “The issues we face today in terms of sexual politics are a symptom or manifestation of the deeper revolution in selfhood that the rise and triumph of expressive individualism represents.
The Bone and Sinew of the Land by Anna-Lisa Cox
Extensive literature, both fictional and non-fictional, has been written about the Black slaves and the racism against the. Much, however, hasn’t been written about the Blacks who escaped slavery and pioneered the American nation, especially the Great Plains. In this meticulously researched and vividly narrated non-fiction piece, these stories are brought to the forefront. With the progression of laws through history and the racist prejudices that were rampant in the North West, Cox captures it all in her novel.
A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell
This non-fiction espionage novel is the real story of a woman who literally changed history by altering the course of the second world war. Virginia Hall, the formidable American spy, thrown out off the foreign service due to her gender and prosthetic leg. However, this didn’t stop her. She endured on, and assumed the title of the ‘Madonna of the Resistance.’ This novel unearths the buried story of one of America’s greatest spies, with the insight and sensitivity of Sonia Purnell.
Endurance by Alfred Lansing
This adventure historical novel recounts the heroic expedition of Ernest Shackleton, as he voyaged to the South Pole in 1914. One of the real life epic stories that actually lives up to the hype, this novel is a testament to the titular endurance, human spirit and unfathomable courage. This book was originally published in 1959, but is bestseller that is here to stay.
Four Lost Cities by Annabel Newitz
In this anthropological look at history, science journalist Newitz breaks down four ancient cities for our understanding – Çatalhöyük, Pompeii, Angkor and Cahokia. The first is located in Central Turkey, the second is a vacation city in Rome, the third a medieval megacity in Cambodia and the last an indigenous metropolis beside the Mississippi river. Taking us through a tour of these early urban settlements, Newitz marks the planning and life of their residents and determines the plausible causes for their fall.
The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie
Woven with Rushdie’s quintessential magical realism, this is a wonderful dreamlike novel where the Mughal and Italian cultures intersect. It follows Akbar as a Mogol Dell’Amor. The Mughal of Love, comes to his court. This European man claims to be the son of Akbar’s grandfather Babur’s youngest sister, whom they lost during a siege. The story is fictional, and so is the titular woman, but Rushdie has researched the story thoroughly. This research results in a grand portrayal of both these cultures, which are equally mesmerizing and flawed.
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