Here’s a detail from a piece of marketing flotsam that I found recently attached to the advertising section of some magazine or another: an insert hawking the History Book Club‘s three books / three bucks promotion. And look whose portraits are juxtaposed in the left margin…
Is a devotee of The Real Lincoln slaving away somewhere for the History Book Club, taking some compensation for his meagre salary by producing subversive ad copy for a national audience? Or do history buffs really just put out things like this with a complete lack of self-consciousness?
Whatever the case may be, I think it should serve as an excellent reminder: the subjects of so-called
Great Man history are almost never great; they are usually just large. And when you try retelling history through the deeds of
Great Men, you usually just end up telling the stories of huge assholes.