The White House
You know how it is. Sometimes, you think to yourself, I don't really want to be challenged with my reading material. A rip roaring good historical yarn would just about do me right now. So long as it's well researched.
So it was this morning. I had a slow morning so I ran myself a nice hot bath, stepped in, and settled myself with a Bernard Cornwell that I hadn't read. Much as the TV series with Sean Bean is absolute crap, (largely because Sean Bean can't act), the stories aren't bad (even though they have nothing in the way of characterisation, sub plot and offer nothing to a discussion of the human condition).
However I digress.
So in I get. I ALWAYS read the foreword, preface, introduction or whatever. (Actually I have an Honours degree in English from a damn good university on the strength of reading the foreword, preface, introduction or whatever. But that's another story).
In this case it was a foreword not a whatever.
And I quote:
Later that year  in the same kind of operation, though on a much larger scale, [the British were] responsible for the capture and destruction of Washington itself. Among the many buildings that were burned was the president's mansion. The lower walls were of stone, so they survived, but when the mansion was rebuilt those walls were painted white to hide the scorch marks and it has been known as the White House ever since.
"Oh that's interesting", I thought. However in an idle moment at lunchtime, (told you it was a slack day), I thought further on it. "I know", I thought, "I'll read up a bit on that British assault", only to learn that Cornwell has perpetuated a myth, of which it seems, every American school child is aware.
The house acquired its nickname early on. Congressman Abijah Bigelow wrote to a colleague on March 18, 1812 (three months before the United States entered war with England): "There is much trouble at the White House, as we call it, I mean the President's" (quoted in W. B. Bryan, "The Name White House," Records of the Columbia Historical Society 34-35 : 308). The name, though in common use, remained a nickname until September 1901, when Theodore Roosevelt made it official.
Hmmm. A tiny spot of research tells us 'it aint so Joe'.
Look, I know historical novels are ultimately fiction and so about storytelling not academic rigour. And hey, we all make mistakes while attempting to be thorough in research.
But surely something so fundamentally flawed in the foreword (not in the narrative) of a book first published 20 years ago should have been corrected by now?