Are History Books Political or Historical?

Is there an easy difference between a history book, political book and a political history book?  

Reading any book you chose is not illegal in the UK, and why should it be?  History is all about finding out what really happened and why it happened. There will always be books written from different viewpoints describing past events, battles, ideologies and the commercial and political environments that led to specific significant events in history. 

When these books go out of print, or when the Author dies, the Copyright prevents it from being reprinted (without the permission of the original Author) for a period of 50 or 75 years – depending on which country they were printed. This means it can only be read by finding an original, existing copy of the book. 

When one of these original copies is found, it is the job of specialist bookshops such as König Books, to make these rare editions available to collectors, historical researchers, re-enactors and history societies with an interest in the topic.


Definitions of History and Politics

To answer this question properly, we first need to examine the definitions for both these words to see if there is any overlap; or whether they are easy to separate.

History is a Noun meaning:

  1. The study of past events, particularly in human affairs:
  2. The whole series of past events connected with someone or something:
  3. Continuous, typically chronological, record of important or public events or of a trend or institution:

Politics is a noun meaning:

  1. Activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power:

Also, a Verb meaning:

  1. Engage in political activity: (a person engaging in present-day politics)

The nature of a verb is a ‘doing’ word, therefore, it must refer to something that someone is currently doing or acting on, or taking part in.

History is NOT Politics

So, from these definitions, it is perfectly clear that History relates to past events and Politics relates to current or future events concerning governance, achieving power, and acting – or doing something.

Using these Oxford Dictionary definitions, any books about past political ideologies or events are History and certainly NOT active Politics. I’m sure this remains the case whether the reader likes or dislikes the events or ideologies concerned.

Personal views, beliefs, likes and dislikes; cannot change this definition, but does it become more complex if the book is about political history?

Political History

Pixabay image Stocksnap

Interestingly, there is no available definition in the Oxford Dictionary, but Wikipedia provides this explanation:

Political history is the narrative and analysis of political events, ideas, movements, organs of government, voters, parties and leaders. It is interrelated to other fields of history, especially diplomatic history, as well as constitutional history and public history.

So again, there is no conflict or cross-over between past events and current or possible future events. Political history books tell stories of the past about people, ideas, movements, voters and leaders, what happened, why it happened and the final outcomes on the country involved, its constitution and the people living there, or otherwise affected by these events. .