From Publishers Weekly:
Loewen’s politically correct critique of 12 American history textbooks—including The American Pageant by Thomas A. Bailey and David M. Kennedy; and Triumph of the American Nation by Paul Lewis Todd and Merle Curti—is sure to please liberals and infuriate conservatives. In condemning the way history is taught, he indicts everyone involved in the enterprise: authors, publishers, adoption committees, parents and teachers. Loewen (Mississippi: Conflict and Change) argues that the bland, Eurocentric treatment of history bores most elementary and high school students, who also find it irrelevant to their lives. To make learning more compelling, Loewen urges authors, publishers and teachers to highlight the drama inherent in history by presenting students with different viewpoints and stressing that history is an ongoing process, not merely a collection of—often misleading—factoids. Readers interested in history, whether liberal or conservative, professional or layperson, will find food for thought here.
A People’s History of the United States -Howard Zinn
“My point is not that we must, in telling history, accuse, judge, condemn Columbus in absentia. It is too late for that; it would be a useless scholarly exercise in morality. But the easy acceptance of atrocities as a deplorable but necessary price to pay for progress (Hiroshima and Vietnam, to save Western civilization; Kronstadt and Hungary, to save socialism; nuclear proliferation, to save us all)–that is still with us. One reason these atrocities are still with us is that we have learned to bury them in a mass of other facts, as radioactive wastes are buried in containers in the earth.”
If you manage to get through both of these (Zinn’s is almost 700 pages), you’ll find yourself wondering just how many of the “facts” we learned in school were actually facts.
When our kids ask us about George Washington, are we going to tell the sad old myth of the cherry tree? Do we continue to glorify our mythic American heroes, or do we look a little deeper, even if it means giving up the cultural story that we were sold while growing up?
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