Sun dishes up 2000 and all that;News;News amp; Opinion

12th November 1999 at 00:00
THE Roman legions were "Latin louts", Charles Darwin was a "barmy boffin", Joan of Arc was a "mad French army girl" and Venus had a lovely Botticelli.

Welcome to 2,000 years of history, as brought to you by the sizzling, soaraway Sun.

Britain's best-selling daily plans to spice up history lessons with a breathless, 144-page book which gives a brief history of the past two millennia in racy, two-syllable Sun-speak.

The authors hope schools will rush to buy copies of Hold ye front page and "right the wrong" of 14.5 billion years of history going unrecorded in the Sun's pages - but now available for just pound;7.99.

The book reveals the Sun scoops as they might have been from the birth of Christ to Neil Armstrong landing on the moon.

The December 26, 1AD edition, announces that "a baby born to a virgin mother was last night claimed to be the Son of God and the saviour of mankind". The story continues on page 4 and 5 with King Herod's "nightmare" in his own words.

The authors, Sun journalists John Perry and Neil Roberts, claim the book is classroom-friendly. Each lurid lump of history is backed up by a list of dates and a concise and serious description of the period.

There is also plenty to discuss in the real-life section of the book, which includes the notorious "Gotcha" front page of 1982, covering the sinking of the Argentine warship the General Belgrano during the Falklands war.

Against that, teachers might want to consider the two-page spread in which readers are asked to vote on a Renaissance page three girl of the year.

Unsurprisingly, historians gave the book mixed reviews. Martin Roberts, head of the Cherwell School, Oxford, and a member of the Historical Association, said it would make a "fantastic starting point to a lesson".

Dr Tim Lomas, vice-president of the Historical Association, said: "Anything that popularises history and makes people aware of their past heritage must be a good thing."

But Sean Lang, former secretary of the association, said: "Historical material is often biased in one way or another, and I think we often need a voice of sanity and objectivity in the material we put before pupils.

"I'm not sure the Sun is giving us that voice of sanity."

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