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Horrible attack launched on historian

Historians have been branded seedy and devious by the author of a best-selling range of children’s history books.

Terry Deary, famous for his Horrible Histories series, lambasted Glasgow-born Harvard lecturer and TV historian Niall Ferguson as “deeply offensive” and claimed that all historians just wanted to make a name for themselves.

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“Historians are nearly as seedy and devious as politicians,” said Deary.

“They pick on a particular angle and select the facts to prove their case and make a name for themselves.”

Deary, 64, whose books have sold more than 20 million copies, reserved his strongest criticism for Ferguson, a former Oxford academic who presented The Ascent of Money, the War of the World and 2003’s controversial Empire. The last was criticised for presenting an apologetic account of the British Empire.

Deary said: “Obnoxious people like Niall Ferguson write a book to prove that the British Empire was a good thing.”

Ferguson said: “It’s a little like asking Rory Bremner for his opinion on George Osborne’s spending cuts,” adding that he had read Deary’s Horrible Histories books to his own children.

“The book argued that there were benefits as well as costs to the British Empire, which is not a political point but a historical judgment,” said Ferguson.

Scottish historians Tom Devine and Neil Oliver were involved in a spat last year after Devine branded the portrayal of Scottish history in the BBC’s History of Scotland strand presented by Oliver fatally flawed.

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