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Harry Potter and History (Wiley Pop Culture and History)

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  3,148 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews

A guide to the history behind the world of Harry Potter just in time for the last Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part II)

Harry Potter lives in a world that is both magical and historical. Hogwarts pupils ride an old-fashioned steam train to school, notes are taken on parchment with quill pens, and Muggle legends come to life in the form of were

Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by Wiley (first published April 12th 2011)
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Aug 07, 2011 rated it liked it
It’s an interesting book, and I learned a few things, like where the term “hocus pocus” comes from, and learned more about things such as Nicolas Flemmel (you can visit his house!), the compare/contrast with Nazis and Death Eaters,

There's also good background on how Hogwarts both does and doesn't reflect the British educational system, and I learned some really fascinating examinations of not just which languages spells and nouns in the books come from, but what the language choices mean in a h
Aug 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
What I learned from this book:

Grindelwald is just as much of a Nazi as Voldemort.
It's better to be a witch in the Wizarding world than a woman in the Muggle world.
The British method of schooling is SO messed up.
The Ministry of Magic, were it a Muggle government, would be one of the most corrupt governments in the world.
Class conflict fuels everything. EVERYTHING.
Fenrir Greyback's lycanthropism is akin to pedophilia, whereas Lupin's is akin to HIV.
While the Harry Potter series is first and foremo
Erin Ashley
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
I don't have a huge spiel to write about with this book. To be honest, I didn't read every single page, I skimmed through it to parts that I thought sounded more interesting to others.

I love history, I really do, but sometimes it can drag on a bit. Even with this book comparing history to the history that is Harry Potter, it sounded like it did go on a bit. There were some great parts in it though. I loved the comparisons to Voldemort and the Death Eaters being German Natzi's.

What I liked the
Nov 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library-books
A collection of fascinating (to a greater or lesser degree) essays relating the world of Harry Potter to the history of the Muggle world. Some of the subjects covered include the history of books ("Beastly Books and Quick-Quills"), real-world parallels to Death Eater ideology ("Was Voldemort a Nazi?" and "Of Marranos and Mudbloods"), the development of the English parliamentary system compared to the wizarding world's Ministry of Magic ("Magic is Might") and the actual practice of history, inclu ...more
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Usually I love critical essays that center around the Harry Potter books. However, this one was not very well written. It seemed to me like all of the essays were written by college students... that kind of style. It was also difficult to follow at times because all of the essayists would use "Muggles" like they were witches and wizards writing about our world. That was a bit distracting. I also feel like I didn't learn a lot of new information about the series and its relationship to history. P ...more
Oct 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Some of the essays were a stretch in terms of making relevant connections to the HP series, and a couple of times the authors seemed tripped up on small HP details. At least one of the essays seemed confused on whether we were pretending the HP world was real for this work and comparing "magic" and "muggle" history. It was overall good fun. I enjoy looking at things like history and philosophy through a pop culture lens.
Sherry Sharpnack
Dec 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I esp enjoyed the chapter regarding the various origins for the magic spells used in the wizard ing world: yes, "avada kedavra" and "abracadabra" are related! Maybe b/c this book was written like a critical anthology --many writers addressing topics on a literary work-- is why I enjoyed it so much; it reminded me of my long-ago days as an English major in college. This is a must-read for Harry Potter fans!
May 17, 2011 rated it liked it
This book was pretty interesting and not really what I expected. It was actually pretty scholarly and not silly like I thought it might be. My favorite chapter was that on the ancient languages behind the spells in the Harry Potter series. I am such a NERD for etymology, so I really enjoyed learning more about the history behind the spells in the series.
Jan 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
I loved the comparisons between the world of Harry Potter and the muggle world. It is obvious that many writers get inspiration from real word events, and HP is no different. I learned more about British and world history by reading this book. I especially liked the essays on the inquisition and history as we know and write it.
Nov 05, 2011 rated it did not like it
I WANTED to like this book, but I'm just not a fan. Didn't even make myself finish reading it once I gave it a couple shots. Life's too short to waste time on things you don't need or enjoy.
Haley Keller
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Harry Potter and History is a collection of essays about Harry Potter and history. Pretty straight-forward. It was the first Harry Potter-related non-fiction book that I had read in a long time, and I was excited for it. I love almost anything that discusses Harry Potter, and I also love history. I had to give this book a shot.

And despite having some flaws, I had an enjoyable time reading Harry Potter and History. It was an interesting decision to write each essay as if the Harry Potter universe
Feb 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting book relating historical events and practices to the world of Harry Potter. The sources for each article are well cited and provide for a lot of potential further reading. Some of the essays are more engaging than others in my opinion, such as "Witches vs Women,"which focuses on the social differences between muggle women and witches. The final essay deals with the importance of history, and I found it to be one of the best in the bunch. It describes different types of "history" and ...more
Peter Greenwell
Jul 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Of course, this is an interesting work, but it's not difficult to draw parallels between history and fiction. Try hard enough, and you'll find echoes of profound history in Green Eggs and Ham. The main issue I have with this curious work is that the various authors give J.K Rowling a little more heft than probably what's deserved. Sure, she's smart and clever but hardly the towering figure of allegorical nous this makes her out to be.
Sep 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Not as interesting as I hoped it would be, although to be fair I should have known that going in, since I tend to find history pretty boring. That being said, some segments of this book were very interesting (although others were pretty boring, I must say). Not terrible, but very dense. I feel like if you're not particularly intrigued by history, this book will be a labor to get through.
Brad Austin
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Awesome! My only complaint is that the book was too short!
Oct 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Some interesting material on the killing curse Avada Kedavra, Nicolas Flamel, the history of the church's persecution of witches, boarding schools, and werewolves.
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Jodi Hutchings
Sep 12, 2017 rated it did not like it
So boring. You must be a Harry Potter media superfan to enjoy this.
Holly Underwood
Mar 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: dnf
This was not quite what I expected it to be, which is likely more a fault of my expectations than its promises. Pretty dry reading.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's an amazing book. Being an Harry Potter fan I expect to know everything about it.
I learnt everything from bezoars to medieval witches to necromancy from here.
great for Ravenclaws like me
Shoshana Frank
Sep 22, 2016 rated it liked it
it was rather dry. I only read subjects that I was interested in learning more about, there were some that weren't as applicable for my tastes.
Lizzie Jones
Jul 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Nancy Reagin has compiled a book of essays about the historical significance of several aspects of Rowling's magical world. Authors research, for example, the latin base of many of the spells used in the Harry Potter books, the history of alchemy, similarities between Death Eaters and Nazis, and Marxism/class conflict in the series. Some are fascinating, some are boring. Something I found distracting, however, was that authors used the word "muggle" in reference to people like you and me and wro ...more
Aradia Lecrawe
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is basically a book of essays written by fans of the Harry Potter series who have amazing credentials in the academic community. They delve deep into subjects that you don't really think about when you read Rowling's books. Tons of information can be found here and I'm impressed that the sources are cited in case I want to look through them. My favorite section deals with comparing the Death Eaters and Voldemort to Hitler and the Nazis. I learned a lot about what was going on with the Jews ...more
Jun 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
I picked this book up thinking it would be like the Pop Culture and Philosophy series. It was not. The essays ranged from too short to far too long. Some of the essays, like the first few, were hard to follow. Were the authors meaning to mix real history with Rowling's fictional history? If so, then they did so, but it left the reader struggling to understand what the footnotes referenced. The only essay that made any sense was the one written by the 'editor' of the book, Nancy Reagin. Her essay ...more
May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Interesting collection of essays on aspects of Muggle culture reflected in the books. Naturally, there is much attention to historical "magic" (including reminders that what Everybody Knows about the witchcraft panic being exclusively a War On Women is just not true). But we also read about Harry Potter and the British Class System, and the background of the "public schools" (which finally explained to me what Despard and Margaret meant about "rule a National school".) And I didn't expect the Sp ...more
May 28, 2014 rated it liked it
I'm kind of conflicted with this book. I liked the idea of taking history and putting it in a way that is more accessible to people who might not normally read a history book. However, this book was written as a series of articles, and these articles were written in a style that reminds me of formal articles that professionals write for each other. I think there were parts that were really interesting, but there were also parts that I thought were boring. It was a good concept, but not executed ...more
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was really a great book. Obviously, it fulfills the Harry Potter fangirl inside of me---but it also makes my Ravenclaw self very happy. There's certainly critical discussion of the HP series in here, but there's also a lot of discussion of related history, such as the histories of magic and witchcraft, and made wonderfully, highly accessible (very little jargon and a lot of careful explanation of concepts that non-historians might not be as familiar with). If you're an HP fan with a history ...more
Sep 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
I've only reached the first official page and already found an error. In the timeline before the introduction something very big popped out at me as being wrong. If Albus Dumbledore was born in 1888, then I'm sorry but he would not be FINISHING at Hogwarts in 1899 as he would only have been 11 years old and would therefore only have been just starting. As such, he hadn't met Grindewald yet and his sister was still alive. After getting past that glaring inaccuracy, I can now actually get on with ...more
Penny Cipolone
Mar 26, 2014 rated it liked it
A nice addition to the Potterverse. Since each essay is written by a different author, the interest level varies. This is an excellent book if you are interested in the United Kingdom and the sources from which Rowling may have derived her content. It can be a bit confusing as the authors sometimes switch abruptly from the Muggle to the Magical world and back again. Overall a good read for a true Harry Potter fan.
Sarah Taylor
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was written as a collection of articles by various authors, and because of this the writing is a little uneven. However, I enjoyed reading this overall for the various insights provided into both history and the Harry Potter series. Lots of cool information and "who knew?" moments while reading this.
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