To go back to an era or event that has past and unlock its many secrets is a task that historians and fiction writers alike do to pass their time.
Delving into an old dusty history book the historian can unlock some of the mystery of the past such as who, what, where, & when... but the historian never knows for sure what really happened. People kept secrets in olden times, especially if the subject was controversial or illegal.. it is not like today when the latest tidbit about someone is spread through the world of the Internet or “revealed” in an OP-ED piece for the paper.
Fiction writers do the same thing in a way - they try to go back and find stories that they can write about and fictionalize people to carry their plot line out. Sometimes spending years on research before writing the book.
The truth is neither one ever know the actual facts. Somewhere out there perhaps someone knows…but in a way that truth is colored by his or her own personality and its story told with his or her twist….
I often think that the only way to know what really happed in the past (as historian) is to hope there is a Heaven and hope I go there….if I get there the first thing I am going to do is ask St. Peter to play this or that piece of history back for me…just so I can see if I got it right.
I really don’t think most people realize that the job of a good historian is to interpret history, not just to write about it…it is like a researched opinion…but as always it is actually just an opinion!