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Don't Know Much About History, Anniversary Edition: Everything You Need to Know About American History but Never Learned (Don't Know Much About Series) Paperback – May 8, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Kenneth C. Davis is the New York Times bestselling author of A Nation Rising; America's Hidden History; and Don't Know Much About® History, which spent thirty-five consecutive weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, sold more than 1.6 million copies, and gave rise to his phenomenal Don't Know Much About® series for adults and children. A resident of New York City and Dorset, Vermont, Davis frequently appears on national television and radio and has been a commentator on NPR's All Things Considered. He blogs regularly at www.dontknowmuch.com.

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Product Details

  • Series: Don't Know Much About Series
  • Paperback: 752 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Anv Rep edition (May 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061960543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061960543
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Doug on February 12, 2014
Format: Paperback
I read the first edition of this book about 20 years ago, and kept track of factual errors inside the back cover. I am surprised that many of those errors have not been fixed.

I won't list or attempt to correct them all but here is a prominent example: In early 1862, Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant replied to his old friend Brigadier General Simon Bolivar Buckner that "no terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted" at the Battle of Fort Donelson. Mr. Davis reports that this famous phrase was first attached to General Grant after the Battle of Vicksburg which ended in July of 1863. Grant considered, but did not demand, unconditional surrender at Vicksburg.

Whenever I read a history book, I rate it based on how incorrect facts are reported. The list I created for the first edition filled the a couple pages inside the back of the book. I'm listening to it in the car this time so I'm not making the list, but the items that I could list does not seemed to have gotten shorter. If there are 1,000 facts reported in a book and 1 is debated or obscure, that's one thing. But Mr. Davis list is long enough and covers very easy to verify items that I am hesitant to accept the facts on topics I know nothing about.

History is NOT an interesting subject because you can memorize so many facts. The interesting part about studying history is when two or more people, armed with the same (preferably accurate) facts can debate reasonable and different interpretations of those facts. Such a debate is pointless when some of the facts cited by either (or both) side are incorrect. Mr. Davis book cannot be relied upon in such a debate.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Paris L. Smith on December 22, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have to say that I really, really loved this book - to my surprise! It was assigned as the text book for a Legal Analysis of U.S. History class. However, it's really not a legal book at all. My only complaint is that it is definitely written with a little bit of a liberal buyist and slant. However, other than that it is excellent and super interesting. It's not like the super boring history text books of childhood and not long that way either. It makes this stuff really real, relevant and highly interesting. This book covers America from 1492 with Columbus and the Indians to President Obama! It was really shocking for me to learn just how we got "HERE" on so many different subjects (even including our relationship with Iran and the mess of North Korea, and who were the pilgrims and first settlers here really anyway). It answers all the questions you could possibly have. Amazing reading!
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19 of 28 people found the following review helpful By itsok2be on July 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
Absolutely no scholarship, just one opinion after another, with some actual dates, and a lot of made up "facts." The author can't go a single page without injecting an opinion as a "fact." I was looking for a brief history of the United States and thought this book looked good. I started it once, made it about half the way through before I gave up on the author, and years later picked it up again, thinking it couldn't be as bad as I remembered. This time I made it about 2/3 the way, but ended up throwing the book away so no one else would get suckered into wasting any time on this steaming pile of stuff. It reminds me of a Peanuts comic I once read. One of the characters asks Lucy how she knows all the obscure facts that she is spouting. Her response is "I make them up." The author of this book ascribes intent to parties that are long dead, and gives no authority for any of his opinion except the opinions of other like minded haters. You would have to be an idiot to take this piece of hate speak seriously.
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19 of 28 people found the following review helpful By John Carr on February 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
I was initially encouraged by the prospect of a entertaining look back at history and even more so by the introduction. Unfortunately the author is very biased without the ability to provide perspective or context. The selection of material and length of discussion demonstrated an agenda which may be entertaining to some but for someone actually looking for what the author claimed the book was about it was very disappointing. Overall the material and author was misleading.
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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Louis Loeb on August 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
I could only get through 2 disks of the audio version. Despite an occasional nugget of worthwhile information, this work is an insult to the moderately informed reader/listener.
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17 of 25 people found the following review helpful By L. Patterson on August 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
I had hoped to learn something and I suppose I did. I now know the author's oppinion on so many things, this is not history but a VERY long oppinion piece.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had this book assigned as reading for my survey of American History Class, and it did not suit this need very well. This book is an excellent reference for people who have already studied US history, however it is hard to read straight through as you normally would with an assigned class reading.

If you are looking for a quick reference to catch up on gaps in your history knowledge this is the right book, otherwise you might consider looking elsewhere.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Drew H on May 29, 2014
Format: Paperback
You know, they always say that winners get to write history. In today's day and age, the liberals are the ones who seem to carry that heavy load. Unfortunately, that's the camp that Kenneth Davis falls in and as much, falls short of a full recommendation for any serious history buff. One need look no further than his decision to cover the Contra-Iran hearing of Reagan's administration, all the while, subtly including his opinion of the situation and players involved. Then, when one thinks he would surely cover the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall, he jumps right into the Gulf War and skips right over it. Which, in its entirety is fine, but does Mr. Davis really want us to believe that the Contra-Iran hearings of the 80's were more important than Reagan's work on the Cold War? I'm sure his rebuttal would be that he can't cover every topic. But, to my first point, his liberal bias is in full effect and he picks an important topic but perhaps not the most important topic of the Gipper's administration. Next, an even more egregious lack of judgment, when speaking of George W. Bush, he refers to his father not as the former "President" but as the "man who was beating badly by Clinton" in his re-election campaign. Such disrespect would never befall the title of prior Democrat Presidents. But, again, being able to pick and choose your stories - and in this case your titles - is what makes this piece of work a liberal-based view on history rather than an unabridged view of the facts. Sorry, Mr. Davis, you didn't win over this neutral history buff. Conservatives, be weary of what you find inside.
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