In my book reviews blog you may have noticed at times I have been critical of other reviewers when their comments condemn a historical genre book based on the stories it relates and its descriptions of attitudes and lifestyles. The reviews can contain anything from criticism to the total abhorrence of events in the story that actually took place.
Whether they are fiction or non-fiction books, providing the author has stuck to the truth, this reaction, I believe, is unjustifiable and unfair. Sorry, but if you can’t handle the truth don’t read books set in eras where attitudes are very different to today.
If you feel comment of cruelty, hardship and extreme sadness must be included to convey the storyline to readers then why not consider statement like “the author clearly depict the hardships of the time” or “this book serves as a reminder that xyz people where harsh in their treatment of ……”
I believe that we must read history in its context. We must take into account the views, attitudes and knowledge of that time. This does not mean we should condone the actions of our forebears. It means we need to understand history so we can learn and be better people today.
I have noticed that this also happens in social media where a post depicts a negative event from history and condemns that event. That is fine, but don’t expect to change what happened – just do all you can to contribute to the world to ensure it doesn’t and won’t happen again.