48 Lies About American History (That You Probably Learned In School), by Larry Schweikart
The author knows what he is talking about when he criticizes textbooks for the lies they pass along, and he names names in this humorous and enlightening book about American history. In many ways, this particular book is a deliberate antagonist to Lies My Teacher Told Me, a work of progressive activism that sought to paint textbooks as being conservatively biased. Quite appropriately and accurately, the author finds this view to be a load of bunk and he takes aim at liberal biases in textbook histories that are based on the economics of textbook publishing that encourage textbook authors to engage the political motivations of the teaching unions and the professional educators of the area. As someone who has written a successful textbook on American history (which I have on my list of books to read in the nearish future), the author clearly has credibility in dealing with historians , and his perspective is one that I certainly appreciate as a reader. Those who actually believe the lies in this particular book–and there are 48 of them–will not view the author so highly as I do, but the rest of us can enjoy this book of historical polemic.
This book contains exactly what it sets out to do, writing refutations for 48 lies in a bit less than 250 pages in no particular order that names the lies and some of the lying historians at the beginning of the chapter and then refuting the lies with concise answers drawn from a firm knowledge of the history and texts involved. Included among the lies dealt with are the supposedly isolationist views of the founders, the view that corporate interests were behind the Mexican-American and Spanish-American wars, FDR’s supposed advanced knowledge of the Pearl Harbor attack, the atomic diplomacy of Truman’s atom bomb drops, various JFK assassination conspiracies, anti-Nixon lies about Vietnam and Watergate, claims that various Communist spies and anarchist terrorists were innocent, the intolerance and racism of the early colonies, the absence of WMD’s in Iraq, conspiratorial views of September 11th, the ineffectiveness of Star Wars, Joseph McCarthy’s paranoia in concocting the red scare, mistaken views about the supposed separation of church and state, the meaning of the Scopes trial, views about Abraham Lincoln’s call for black troops, the reason for the impeachment, the illegitimacy of the 2000 election, the reasons for Muslim terrorism as poverty and support of Israel, global warming, the effectiveness of health regulations, and Northern capitalism as the cause of the Civil War.
There are at least a few interrelated reasons for the lies that so many history teachers–most of them poorly educated in history themselves–attempt to pass off. For one, lies spread in textbooks because people see textbooks as a good way to indoctrinate others, and so many of the people who write histories themselves have obvious and unacceptable biases. It should be noted in fairness that the author has an obvious bias with his own Patriot’s History Of The United States, but that is a bias that is not so unacceptable and one whose openness is praiseworthy. History should be written by honest patriots who wish for God to mend the flaws of their nation or church or community, but who honestly face the past and use it as inspiration for the present. At any rate, this book shows the author to be aware of a wide variety of historical disciplines and highly critical of others in his field that attempt to pass off shoddy and slanted scholarship as being worthy of instruction to young people as a way of indoctrinating them into an evil and self-destructive worldview. It is a good thing that there are books like this to counteract such lies.
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