Top critical review
12 people found this helpful
Buyer Beware! This book has an agenda!
on January 2, 2012
Where to start. . .
First of all, the format is completely insulting to kids. The authors criticize shows like "Teen Mom" for spoon feeding dribble to kids, but this is even worse. Do we really think so little of our youth that we assume they will only read a picture book with pop culture references (NSync on the list of the world's most ruthless dictators, really?) and outdated slang every third word. I teach middle school and can tell you that kids know when a bunch of 35 year-olds are trying to patronize them. America is great subject matter! Tell an engaging story, present the subject matter in an engrossing way and kids will respond positively.
If the author's intention is to present a completely leftist, revisionist version of American history and current events, then mission accomplished. This is certainly not a new concept. Howard Zinn has been doing it for years. I have no problem with authors writing from a particular viewpoint. What I have a problem with is marketing those ideas to students as absolute fact, and suggesting that if kids believe anything but what the authors say, they are ignorant, uninformed, or dumb. Being informed doesn't mean buying into everything in a book hook, line, and sinker. It's realizing that there are multiple sides to each issue, and knowing how to find those answers for themselves. It's also knowing that intelligent, educated, well-meaning people can disagree on issues and that doesn't make anyone bad, stupid, or even wrong. Don't just say that a law is wrong, provide evidence, encourage readers to actually read the bill itself. That alone would make them more informed than most of congress. Don't just say global warning is absolute fact, tell why you believe that. Giving your student a book (any book) is not going to make them an informed citizen. Talk to them about what is going on the world! Watch the news with them- MSNBC, Fox, and everything in between! Talk about the differing opinions and let your teen form their own opinion. Read primary source documents like speeches, letters, newspapers. Take them to town halls to meet their representatives, watch documentaries together. There is no magic bullet. Learning takes work and committment.
I understand that the authors want to make things simple and easy to understand. The fact is that most topics that the authors attempt to cover in one or two paragraphs aren't that simple. Reading a mock-facebook page for Jesus will not teach you about Christianity, and is actually quite offensive. Read the Bible! Read the Quoran! Visit different places or worship and meet people of different faiths before you make assumptions. Just about every picture of President Bush (43) shows him looking like an idiot, and they even refer to him as "W." My husband, a two time Iraq war vet, was extremely insulted by the section on the War on Terror, and my wonderfully devout mother-in-law was upset about the condescending and disdainful section on the Catholic church. When they talked about how angry people get about issues, they mentioned Bill O'Reilly and Toby Keith, but not Bill Maur, Rosie O'Donnell, or Alec Baldwin, liberals who are equally opinionated.
This is America and these folks can write with whatever point of view they would like. Readers and parents, however, should be aware that this book is not objective and teaches the liberal worldview as fact. To each his own, but as a parent I would want my student to have a balanced education in history and a sense of respect for the differing ideas that people have about the issues. Whether it's the Kardashians, Snooky, Lady Gaga, Glenn Beck, Jon Stewart, or even these authors, blindly believing any one person or source is generally a bad idea.