While politicians seek evidence of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons in Iraq they overlook the fact that in human history war itself has always been the greatest weapon of mass destruction. Its tools, whether machine guns, bombs or missiles of one form or another, are merely variations on a theme. The atomic bomb in Hiroshima killed perhaps 100,000 civilians in a matter of seconds while the British naval blockade of Germany between 1914 and 1919 killed a million Germans by slow degrees. Since the terrorist strikes of 9/11, history, its methodology, terminology and its particular concern with objective truth have been damaged - the language of historians subverted by politicians and the media; the past pillaged for examples to support modern political agendas. "Picking the Bones" strikes back in an attempt to restore the integrity of historical studies by demonstrating that the future is never merely a reworking of the past.
The book begins by exploring the drawbacks of demonising and glorifying historical characters for political purposes - Hitler is always the architect of the Holocaust and never the successor of Bismarck, and Churchill the man of Britain's 'finest hour', never the leader who planned to use anthrax on German cities in 1944. Mythologising history has become a tactic of unscrupulous politicians, along with disinformation and a new vague language used to describe war and liberation - are weapons of mass destruction biological terrorist threats or are they the UN sanctions which inflicted death on 500,000 children under five in Iraq? By questioning the 21st century's experts at "spin doctoring", "Picking the Bones" reveals, through evidence and historical appraisal, that the myths upon which current political agendas are based are historically dishonest and biased, and honour the past in name only.