Book Review: The Art of History–Unlocking the Past in Fiction and Nonfiction by Christopher Bram

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Christopher Bram (Father of Frankenstein, Eminent Outlaws) explores his love for the past in this delightful little book from Graywolf.

“Some people dismiss historical fiction as a bastard genre, the lowly love child of history and romance.” Not Bram. He wallows in the rich details; he revels in the complexities and dynamics that both historical fiction and non-fiction share. Breaking down a group of varied and unlike authors and their work—including Toni Morrison, Leo Tolstoy, David McCullough, and Charles Royster—showing the ways they use biography, details, or even the nature of human comedy as a medium to tell both history and a story. Bram expertly deconstructs some of the genre’s more famous works and shows why they all deserve more than a bastard child label. It would have been easy for Bram to turn this into a thesis paper full of academic stuffiness, but it is clear through the casual, at times humorous, writing that this is a work of love for the genre and history in general.

A must-have book for anyone looking to hone their historical writing craft, as well as for anyone who loves the genre and wants to immerse themselves in the intricacies of the historical narrative.

Review originally appeared in the Historical Novels Review August 2016

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