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Introduction to Fuzzy History

29 June 2008 — fuzzyhistory

I started reading historical fiction in college. I was a dual history-Spanish major (later changed to American Studies-Spanish) and a number of my professors sought to capture students’ interests through assigning readings that included novels. I read Kenneth Roberts, John Steinbeck, John Dos Passos, Lillian Hellman, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dashiell Hammett, William Faulkner, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Ivan Turgenev and Nikolai Gogol, amongst others. Many of these authors, of course, did not write historical fiction. Their subjects were contemporary. But because the books capture the times so well, many now (and when I read them) serve as historical fiction.

While I read historical fiction off-and-on for years after leaving college, I didn’t pick it up again regularly until about 2 years ago. Now it’s as if I’m trying to make up for lost time. I’ve kept notes on what I’ve read during the this time. I’ve also written numerous book reviews as a consumer at sites, such as Amazon and HistoricalFiction.org. I’ve participated in relevant discussion forums at these sites as well as at LibraryThing and PaperbackSwap.

To say I enjoy talking about historical fiction is, well, obvious. This, then, is one reason for launching the blog. My other reasons include:

  • To maintain a better organized and searchable record of what I’ve read and what I thought of it.
  • To prepare what librarians call a pathfinder to novels about specific events, places or people in history. In libraryland, a pathfinder is a guide to a topic, typically limited to resources within the library’s collection. Today, they often include resources, such as specialized databases and Web sites, outside the collection.
  • To share my knowledge of research and the used book trade to help others find good historical fiction as well as scarce out-of-print titles.

Finally, by way of introduction, I’d like to explain the title I choose for this blog. Those familiar with fuzzy logic may already have guessed. History depicted in a novel may be true, false or somewhere in between. This theme of historical accuracy will appear time and again in my blog posts; hence, the title Fuzzy History.

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