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America Revised: History Schoolbooks in the Twentieth Century Hardcover – June, 1979

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Little Brown & Co (T); 1st edition (June 1979)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316284246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316284240
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,297,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Frances FitzGerald gained fame as a result of her book, "Fire in the Lake" (1972) when she brilliantly argued that the U.S. stumbled into Vietnam, and continued to stumble and fail for years, because of its inability to understand the history and psychology of the people who lived in the area. This 1979 book, "America Revised," turns her analytical capabilities on the manner in which we have understood our own history. She traces the evolution of the development of history textbooks and the debates over them through the years. The result is a fascinating portrait of the manner in which we define ourselves by what we teach our children about our past.

What FitzGerald finds is that for most people the history taught in secondary, and even universities, was consciously constructed to enhance the citizenship of the populace. The definition of enhanced citizenship might differ in time and space, but fundamentally it has emphasized a traditional vision of the American past in which a consensus interpretation--a one nation, one people emphasis--has been the norm rather than a story that is filled with conflict and counter narratives.

The fierceness of the debate over what is contained in history textbooks, and therefore what is taught in school, results from the need to redefine national identity and a concern that the bulwarks of traditional conceptions may be crumbling. This has recast historical inquiry as an intellectual battleground where the casualties are no longer theories about the past that matter mostly to historians but the overall "weltanschauung" of society in a post-modern, multicultural, anti-hierarchical age.
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1 Comment 21 of 22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
The reviews here don't do this book justice. It's not "conspiracy theories" about "the truth." It is a nuanced book based on Fitzgerald's New Yorker articles in the late 1970s, drawing on her extensive, thoughtful reading of the broad collection of historic textbooks at Columbia Teacher's College. Fitzgerald offers a surprising historiography about the range of textbooks in the 1930s, the cracks in the supposedly-consensus history of the 1950s, and the 1960s and 70s shifts from social movements of the right as well as left, as well as the business pressures of textbook publishing. Smart and incredibly well-written, this book is better than more recently-written books about America's textbook controversies. Anyone interested in the teaching of U.S. history or public memory in America should read this book.
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Format: Hardcover
This book raises questions of conspiracy with its story of how history is altered according to the times and whims (?) of the few. I recommend this book for anyone studying history, and anyone who wants to know "the truth."
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