Thanks for a salutary article. Interestingly, the only real difference between “history” in the USA and “history” in the former Soviet Union was that in the case of the latter, writers had to attempt to predict the future: who would still be mentionable in a couple of years’ time, after the next purge? Writers in the USA have an easier task because the nationalist myths, once created, remain constant. But neither in the USA nor in the Soviet Union do the stories resemble in any way the truth.

Furthermore, Columbus was an atrociously bad navigator: he was incapable of calculating his actual position; hence he imagined he’d reached India when actually he’d only come as far as the Caribbean. Not very impressive, especially when one considers the fact that Eratosthenes of Cyrene had calculated the circumference of the Earth to an accuracy of 100 miles around 1,500 years before Columbus set out on his initial voyage looking for loot and a cheaper way to convey spices from the Orient.

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