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Mike Dash : biography

1963 -

Mike Dash (born 1963) is a Welsh writer, historian and researcher. He is best known for books and articles dealing with dramatic yet little-known episodes in history.



Dash was born in London. He attended Peterhouse, a college at the University of Cambridge particularly noted for teaching history, and cmopleted postgraduate work at King's College London, where he obtained a Ph.D.

Dash authored a series of books covering incidents in the history of the Dutch East India Company, the Netherlands, India under British rule, and New York during the Progressive Era. Each focuses on a single event or series of events, among them the wreck of the East Indiaman Batavia, the Dutch tulip mania of 1634-1637, and the early years of the American Mafia. More recently he has become known as the author of a wide-ranging weekly historical blog, "Past Imperfect", written for the Smithsonian Institution.

As an historian, Dash is noted for the high quality of his research, which the academic journal The Age of Sail described as being "to a level rarely seen in books intended for a general audience."The Age of Sail, 2003 p.198. The Toronto Globe and Mail applauded his work as “up-close, personal, and full of you-are-there detail," adding, "Dash is that rarity: a perfectionist in his research and a writer who perfectly carves out his story with a pen as sharp as a stiletto,"Globe and Mail, August 15, 2009. and the New York Times praised his "unabashedly cinematic flair, backed by meticulous research."New York Times, April 7, 2002. On the other hand, Publishers Weekly, writing of Dash's book on the Batavia, charged that while he took the story "to a new level of grotesque accuracy," his "nautical drama never truly comes to life." Publishers Weekly, June 2, 2002.

"Past Imperfect" has also attracted comment for introducing history that rarely features in text books to a new generation of readers. The New Yorker identified it as "the most mind-boggling read of the week",The New Yorker, February 2, 2013. and the Christian Science Monitor added: "Show it to any kid who's complaining that history is boring and that will be the end of that conversation. And the beginning of a new one."Christian Science Monitor, November 2, 2011.

Dash's most recent book, The First Family, is a new history of Giuseppe Morello and the establishment of the Mafia in the United States. He began writing for the Smithsonian in July 2011 when the Institution acquired his history site, A Blast from the Past, shortly after the History News Network awarded it the 2010 Cliopatria prize for history blogging. .

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Living octopus

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