How Accurate Is: The Social Network (Film, 2010) Part 1

A poster for The Social Network.
A poster for The Social Network.

Hello everyone! Today, I decided to do a post that will examine a very contemporary topic; the film The Social Network. This 2010 film, written by Aaron Sorkin, takes a dramatic look at the founding story of Facebook. Yes, this is much more recent than some of the other movies and television featured in recent posts, and it is therefore certainly difficult to decide how much credence to lend the different sides of the story; however, this post will mainly aim to clear up some major misconceptions created by the film’s portrayal of many central characters.

  • To begin, as in any movie, many characters were simply left out to facilitate the plot; for example, Adam D’Angelo, a friend of Zuckerberg’s and briefly Facebook’s CTO, was not present in the film.[1]
  • Similarly, the portrayal of Zuckerberg’s character as a social loner was somewhat inaccurate; he has been dating the same woman, Priscilla Chan, since 2005 and the two are now married.[2]
    • Facemash appears to have been mostly accurate, but there is nothing specifically mentioning him breaking up with a girlfriend; there was something about a girl included in his original blog, however. Furthermore, he created it in a week, not a night, and he was certainly not drunk that entire time.[3]
  • Even those who received favourable treatments by the film have rights to be annoyed. For example, instead of angrily moping as in the film, the real-life Winklevoss twins actually went out and founded their own company, ConnectU. This was the entity through which they eventually sued Zuckerberg, but the company was not particularly successful and has now been so thoroughly lost to history that it does merit so much as a mention in the film.[4]
  • Other, smaller, inaccuracies also proliferate. The most egregious example is the scene near the close of the film where Sean Parker is arrested after being caught with drugs (and underage interns) during the million-user party for Facebook; although the bones of the story are true (Parker was arrested after cocaine was found in a vacation home he was renting), most of the story was simply made up for effect.[5]

For more, continue past the link.

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Book Recommendation: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (William L. Shirer, 1960)

RiseAndFall

Hello everyone! Today’s post will be another book recommendation, this time on a true historical classic, William L. Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
Most individuals who are interested in the history of the Second World War will have heard of this book already, but since not everyone reading this will, I have decided to do a post about it.

Rise and Fall chronicles a familiar story- the Second World War- from a perspective that will seem unusual to many students of history; that of the Germans. The book is certainly not an apology for the Nazis, and in fact spends a great deal of time pointing out the flaws in their decisions. For me, it was a fascinating experience to learn an unknown side to such a familiar story- surely, for any true student of the war, names like Jodl and Rommel should be at least as familiar as Montgomery or Eisenhower. The book finds its sources both in the experiences of the author (a correspondent in Berlin until 1941 and the outbreak of war between Germany and America) and the diaries of those Nazis who survived the immediate end of the war.

Rise and Fall is written in a dramatic and engaging style, frequently quoting from other literature on the subject and examining at parts of the war that are not commonly put under the microscope. The period leading up to the war, for example, is discussed in great detail. I, at least, learned a great many things about that period that I had not previously known, such as the exact methods with which Hitler subdued his political opponents within Germany. (Of particular interest was his strategy of calling a massive May Day celebration to bring the Labour movement to Berlin and then having all their leaders arrested.) The most dramatic section of the book is the final chapters, fittingly titled Gotterdammerung, describing the fall of Berlin: “Heinrici’s army, to the north of Berlin, was beating a hasty retreat westward so that it might be captured by the Western Allies instead of by the Russians.”(Shirer, 1960, 1120.)

All in all, this book deserves to be required reading for a student of the Second World War; knowing both sides to a story is always key to truly understanding it, and this proves to be no exception. I hope you all enjoyed this post, and have a nice day! (For a reference, continue past the link)

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How Accurate Is: Baudolino (Book, Umberto Eco, 2000)

baudolino

(Spoilers will be present. Always assume they will.)

Hello everyone! Today, I will be doing a post on the Umberto Eco novel Baudolino, written in 2000. This book, set during the time of the Fourth Crusade and its sack of Constantinople, tells the story of the title character through a long series of flashbacks. The character of Baudolino is a peasant from Northern Italy who, through chance, encounters the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and becomes his adopted son; from there, most of the rest of his life is dedicated to finding the mythical kingdom of Prester John, a myth that he helps create in the process. As was Prague Cemetery, this book by Eco is impeccably researched; for example, the figure to whom Baudolino dictates his life story, Niketas Choniates, was a real Byzantine court historian and actually wrote an account of the Fourth Crusade, which he begins at the end of the book.[1] There are many other such accuracies:

  • Everything Frederick does in the book is as it occurred in history; his six expeditions to Italy, his canonization of Charlemagne, and all the rest. The only invented thing about Frederick in the book is his motive for embarking on the Third Crusade.[2]
  • Almost all the minor characters not directly related to Baudolino (the members of Frederick’s court, etc.) are also historical; however, Baudolino and his group of friends are not.
  • Much like in the Prague Cemetery, Baudolino uses its fictional main character as an explanation for the motives behind historical events that we know little about, which is a strategy that allows them to maintain historicity and an interesting story.
  • For more, continue past the link.

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How Accurate Is: The Tudors (TV Show, 2007-2010) S1E3

Charles V (and a dog).
Charles V (and a dog).

Hello everyone! Today I am going to do another post on The Tudors, this time on the third episode of the first season. There is less to discuss in this post than the previous one because it appears that the show is going to continue willfully changing history, as mentioned in my previous post. This episode, incidentally, took place directly after the previous one, which is evident because Charles V visited England to sign the Treaty of Windsor in 1522, while the Duke of Buckingham was executed in 1521.[1] Here, then, are some of the changes made by this episode.

  • For one thing, no sister of Henry VIII married or was intended to marry the King of Portugal, as depicted in this episode. In real life, Margaret spent most of her life in Scotland, having been the Queen of Scotland during the life of James IV, her husband, and the Queen Regent during the childhood of James V, her son.[2]
  • Charles Brandon was indeed made the Duke of Suffolk, as shown in this episode, but in 1514 after the successful war with Scotland, not in 1522 as depicted in this episode.[3]
  • While Henry did write a pamphlet denouncing Luther, it was published in 1521 and written even earlier; this would place the writing outside the scope of this episode. This is a fairly minor error but is an error nonetheless.[4]
  • Anne Boleyn only caught the eye of Henry in 1526, not 1522 as was depicted in this episode.[5]

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Video Game Recommendation: Europa Universalis IV (Video Game, 2013)

EUIV

Hello everyone! Today, I am going to do a video game recommendation post for Europa Universalis IV, by Paradox Interactive. Released in 2013, the game allows you to guide a nation through the four hundred years of history between 1444 (the end of the failed Crusade of Varma) to 1821 (the year Napoleon died on St. Helena). Essentially any political entity that was present, almost anywhere in the world, during this time can be chosen. The level of detail present in the game is extremely impressive, and most nations on the map do feel true to themselves, although this becomes less true the further from the traditional centers of historical study (i.e., Europe, China, Japan, etc.) one travels.

The one downside of the game is the large number of expansions- I would recommend waiting until there is a sale on Steam to purchase this game, because otherwise the game can be rather expensive. Not all the expansions are required, but they all add important features to the game and none are definitely not worth purchasing.

The amount of features in the game is impressive. There is a detailed religion system, depicting which provinces (the principal division of the map, as in Crusader Kings II) belong to which religion. There is also colonization, an trade and technology system, and cultures present. The topographic map is quite beautiful as far as I am concerned, although I know that not everyone is in agreement on that topic. That said, this game does not have wonderful graphics; the game never leaves the aforementioned topographic map, and there are no cutscenes or anything of that variety.

All in all, I would definitely recommend this game. It has essentially infinite replayability, and allows you to relive history like few games before it, save for the other games by Paradox. I hope you enjoyed this post, and I will see you soon, this time with a full post.

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