How Fake History Ignites the Fake Present

Nov 8, 2023

New Thinking In Reality podcast

Series streaming on:

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Your host:

Eric Schurenberg

Award-winning journalist and former CEO of Inc. and Fast Company

Welcome to In Reality, the podcast about truth, disinformation and the media. I’m Eric Schurenberg, a long time journalist and media executive, now the executive director of the Alliance for Trust in Media.

An awful lot of the heat in today’s polarized political landscape arises from vastly different interpretations of history. In the US, we fight over how to deal with slavery in our history books. Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan is a shout-out to a historical golden era that may or may not have existed.

Today’s In Reality guest, Otto English, is the pseudonymous author of the books Fake History and Fake Heroes. He has made a study of the gap between history as it was lived, and history as it was remanufactured by powerful people generations hence. Otto and I discuss the abiding attraction that authoritarian leaders from ancient Greece to modern Russia have for creating a mythical golden age in their past; the role that fake history played in Britain’s economically disastrous Brexit vote; and how we remake the stories of politicians from Winston Churchill to Donald Trump to conform to archetypes, rather than reality.

This episode was produced by Tom Platts

Hear more from Otto English right here

In this episode we discuss:
  • How Otto got his pen name
  • Fake History
  • Fake Heroes
  • Brexit
  • Donald Trump

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