Totally agree with Oreo, also I think it's only getting more important in this new globalized and info-rich, story-rich world we live in, and which our kids will be living in, to learn to understand and handle the difference/interaction/mutual dependences of actual history and history'based fictions, historical romance, historical myths, pseudo-historical tropes and stories and so on. Between the actual events, the changes, the actual people that lived through WW2, the Napoleonic wars, the age of discovery and the reformation -those vs movies, novels, paintings and given ideas about those ages. Like, what in Gladiator, Romeo and Juliet, The Mammoth Hunters or The Naked and the Dead matches actual history, what's guesses and what's free elaboration and fiction? It's getting more important and, to some degree, more daunting all the time, and the issues are different everywhere.
It seems to me at least that history is more habitually, freely fictionalized in the U.S. than in Europe, but that's largely because of the entertainment industry. Hollywood and U.S. tv have simply been the leading fictionalizing-of-history factory of the planet for the past eighty years, mass market fiction anyway, and it can happen quickly after an event. The JFK assassination and the sixties were becoming the stuff of all sorts of marketed fiction within a dozen years after they happened. No country in Europe or Asia (except maybe Japan) has quite that kind of muscle when it comes to making mass-market drama and romance out of historical events, and conversely it's a bit more touchy sometimes to do it as liberally with history over here, at least history that's still within living memory or next to it, because everyone has been at war with everyone in the past and though peace is now reigning, this past, sometimes a complex and touchy past, is etched into so much of the social fabric, of family histories, of the makeup of a town or even of the road and rail network sometimes, that you can't escape it if you mix fiction up with history too loosely, and sell the product as if it was history, the real thing or next to it.
When it comes to struggles, frictions, empowerment and "affairs" within a society, that goes right into the present of course. I would love it if tv series like The West Wing, which was to some extent a running, intelligent commentary on contemporary U.S. society and politics, or The Sopranos, which took a leisurely look at the contemporary trappings of a few already mythified but also quite real strata in the nation, if that kind could be done more easily and frequently around here in Europe, but in most countries that's just not happening too often I think. We often don't quite have that kind of leeway and sense of authority when it comes to making tv fiction about contemporary history I think (it can be done in a movie, but much less frequently as a long tv series). Or the budget that creates those kinds of frames in the tv factory.
History is a more difficult and polymorph beast this side of the ocean, but the same will be true of places like China, India or Latin America in the near future, to their people and to foreigners living there. Which makes it even more pressing to know something of how to separate history from historical fictions, and enjoy and undrstand both. Yeah, I know historical writing and even historical sources have their own kind of story-telling, conscious and unconscious, open and hidden, but it's a bit different from the actual invention or remixing of historical people and what they did or how they lived. Ultimately: how history and historical legends and romances get written, for whom, and by whom, and why?