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The Falsification of History isn't the sort of book I'd usually choose to read, but after hearing a clip of the author (John Hamer) talking about possible 'alternate endings' to the Titanic tragedy I was more than a little intrigued. It sounded fantastical that such a widely reported 'story' could be a complete deception, but that got me thinking of the old 'history is always written by the victors' quote - and then I became curious of Hamer's book, which he was obviously on this show to promote. How can we be entirely sure that the history we're learning and learning from is correct? Could things be manipulated to suit the governments of yesterday and today? The Falsification of History looks at various points of history and dissects them showing at times gaping errors in the official stories, stories that we all know and believe to be true as they're written in all the history books.
It's an interesting read, a long hard plod but interesting all the same. John Hamer, in the longest introduction I have ever read in a non-fiction book, asserts several times that he is not a conspiracy theorist and should not be dismissed as such - he paints himself as simply being an information giver; having researched The Falsification of History over a complete decade I actually believe he does know his stuff, although I do find him a bit flappy-panicky at times and he has the Baptist way of shoving his opinion to the fore while subtly covering this with well placed compliments to his reading audience and 'feh, whadda I know' insincere digs about himself.
Situations John Hamer covers are as diverse as the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, the murders of Jack the Ripper, the Boxing Day Tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the Apollo moon landings, both world wars and, of course, the 'confusion' surrounding the dreadful events of 9/11. I found some of his theories plausible and these definitely provided food for thought, especially after checking facts online (and double, triple checking them), while others made me giggle or cringe depending on the level of tactlessness displayed by the author. I enjoyed the more historical sections of the book; the fact that Antarctica was depicted in a detailed map of the world drawn in around 300 BC, centuries before its official discovery, amazed me and also the fact that this map showed the exact location of the Falkland Islands despite the fact that we're all taught they were only 'discovered' as recently as the early 16th century. The William Shakespeare section is bizarrely interesting, compelling in the way it picks at the theory of another genius entirely being responsible for these literary works of art with dates and facts that can be checked even on mainstream educational websites.
It's done pretty much in chronological order with most of the individual sections being short and snappy, providing enough detail to pique your interest but not so much that you feel you feel you can take it 100% at face value. John Hamer explains this by saying he wants you to go and research his facts for yourself, but I feel personally that sometimes he is vague by necessity when he doesn't have a huge amount of credible argument to put forward. There's a lot of very polite English ranting involved, mainly directed towards the Queen (who Hamer has pegged as a blood thirsty child sacrificing tyrant masquerading as a loveable old lady) and the whole concept of Israel. It's not particularly a Palestine thing; Hamer has studied the role of the Jew in history and portrays the more powerful section of this race as incredibly evil people, behind practically every major atrocity in history. It's not anti-semitism, not attacking in tone and appears to be balanced on first reading - it is, however, worded in a highly bitter way at times and comes across to me as horribly biased and bizarrely sweeping.
The 'Jew thing', as I came to think of it, is a common thread throughout the entire book - he really has a bee in his bonnet about Jews. Admittedly Hamer acknowledges the persecution Jews have faced throughout time but he doesn't seem to dwell on this fact and instead chooses to assert his theories on why they are the bad guys - while he doesn't actually deny that the holocaust occurred, he comes uncomfortably close in my opinion and this obsession does detract from the important points the author is trying to make. What I do find interesting is that Hamer, as a British man, happily tells of our own appalling behaviour against the people of other nations - in particular the Dresden bombings and the disgraceful way we, as part of the 'winning' side, treated the ordinary people of Germany in the months and years after the war. I knew a little of this thanks to my dads interest in Germany and the Nazi rule, but was shocked at the level of barbarity the allies dished out on the German civilian population - facts I certainly did not take Hamer's word for but found him to be well informed through my own subsequent research.
The Falsification of History covers so much that I haven't even scratched the surface with the examples above, but it's not all about history and does occasionally lapse into (umm) the ramblings of a madman. The long section in the prologue which debated the idea of humans being descended from aliens made me snigger and flick rapidly through the pages, pondering the fact that this author obviously believes he has an important message to impart but spoils himself in a typical David Icke way by making a bizarrely off the wall claim - I could easily have closed the book never to return after reading his alien parentage-vs-theory of evolution argument, but I'm glad I didn't let one daft statement put me off as overall I found it an interesting and thought provoking read. I also do not believe that Prince Philip or Bill Gates are behind a programme designed to drastically decrease the population of the world through artificially introduced disease.
It doesn't take long to realise that John Hamer is incredibly hung up on the Illuminati; he has strong opinions on this shadowy organisation and it's a thread which marches on through the majority of the book. This becomes a little grating and I'd find myself rolling my eyes at various points when he mentions the Illuminati with the most tenuous link to the subject currently being discussed, making the book seem disjointed and causing Hamer to lose his thread often as he went off on an Illuminati inspired rant. Again, the almost constant references to the Illuminati are distracting and take substance away from the authors more believable claims - and there are some, plenty of them if you keep an open mind and don't mind checking out stuff for yourself.
The book is written in a friendly, personable and (relatively, considering the subject matter) knowledgeable manner. Quotes are peppered liberally throughout the book, some being lengthy and bolstering Hamer's claims and others being a little bit too vague to really help his cause. I thought the quotes were well chosen on the whole and broke up longer portions of the author's own opinion, I read the Kindle edition and noticed very poor formatting when two quotes were used together as they'd kind of run into one another and this made them hard to read properly. The same was true of the few photos Hamer included in the book, I can envisage them being impressive single page shots in a paper book but unfortunately they were a little squished and hard to see in my electronic edition. The grammar isn't perfect with the kind of misplaced comma issues that scream buy a copy of Eats, Shoots & Leaves, this is endearing in a 'wow, this man is passionate!' kinda way but becomes more and more irritating as the book progresses.
I know I've made the author and the book sound bizarre in this review, but I'm actually glad I read it as it's made me not only think deeper about things but also question the official line about more events than have been picked out for The Falsification of History. It's been called 'the truth-seekers bible' and lauded as a masterpiece of research and whistle blowing, seemingly by the very conspiracy theorists whom John Hamer is studiously trying to distance himself from. I personally don't think he completely enters the realms of 'conspiracy theory' (although he has a bloody good go at times!) as many of the arguments in this massive 700-something page book are not only interesting but also strangely plausible - that's not to say that Hamer is correct in all or any of his assumptions, but anything that makes the reader think outside the box has got to be a good thing.