From the fall of Rome to the Wild West, Mountain brings colour and perspective to historical mythmaking.
Our museums are full of pure white Classical sculptures. Over the years, we've ignored evidence that they were originally painted bright colours, 'restoring' sculptures to a gleaming white and becoming heated about the very idea of a lick of paint. Why? Because the stories we tell about our past affect how we see ourselves today.
Just one wrong turn in our understanding of history can infect whole areas of thought - as well as how we look at society and relate to others in the 21st century. Exploring some of the biggest myths, mysteries and misconceptions about the past (Columbus didn't discover America, the Vandals weren't vandals, Boudicca wasn't English), David Mountain reveals how ongoing revolutions in history and archaeology are finally shedding light on the truth.
We discover how prejudices, hoaxes and misinterpretations have whitewashed entire chapters of history, dismissed and demonised female leaders, and invented entire civilisations. Past Mistakes will make you reconsider your notion of what is and isn't 'history' - and why it matters now.
David Mountain is a freelance writer whose work has been featured in Free Inquiry, The Humanist and Nadja. He has also given talks at the Edinburgh Fringe and Belfast's Festival of Ideas and Politics. He currently lives in Edinburgh.
History of ideas