Monday, May 4, 2009

American History Is Not What They Say (Jeff Riggenbach)

Jeff Riggenbach introduces his new book on historical revisionism, Why American History is Not What They Say:

Americans have been warring with each other for more than a century over the contents of the American-history textbooks used in the nation's high schools and colleges. Nor is the reason far to seek. If, as seems to be the case, these textbooks encompass one hundred percent of the information that most high school and college graduates in this country will ever encounter on the subject of American history, the American-history wars would appear to be well worth fighting. For what Americans know and understand about the history of the society in which they live will determine the degree of their willingness to honor and preserve its ideals and traditions. More than that: it will determine what they regard as the ideals and traditions of their society. It will determine nothing less than the kind of society they will seek to strengthen and perpetuate.

Until very recently, however, the range of the conflict over American-history textbooks was narrow indeed. All sides tacitly agreed that the story of the United States was the triumphant tale of a people fervently devoted to peace, prosperity, and individual liberty; a people left utterly untempted by opportunities of the kind that had led so many other nations down the ignoble road of empire; a people who went to war only as a last resort and only when both individual liberty and Western civilization itself were imperiled and at stake. There had been injustices along the way, of course — the Native Americans had been grossly mistreated, as had the African Americans. Women had been denied the vote and even the right to own property. Yet these injustices had been corrected in time, and the formerly mistreated groups had been integrated into full citizenship and full participation in the liberty, prosperity, and peace that were the birthright of every American — the very same liberty, prosperity, and peace that had made America itself a beacon of hope to the entire world.

Read the rest and buy the book, or download it for free as a PDF.

2 comments:

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History isn't full of truths, is full of versions, so the history of any country is just a great collection of versions that missed a lot of important details.