1,007 of 1,108 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly balanced history, but not without its flaws.
It is axiomatic that there are at least two sides to every story, so when I stumbled across this book at my local library I was drawn in by the back-cover blurb that proclaims the author's purpose to counter what he describes as the blame-America-first revisionist history that predominates in modern scholarship, as epitomized by Howard Zinn. The reference on the front...
Published on August 1, 2008 by No one of consequence
25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing viewpoint but has an incredible number of factual errors
I had written a review of this book previously and I came back to make a minor edit to that review only to find that it no longer exists. I contacted Amazon to ask why it had been deleted and they said that, because it included quotes by Abraham Lincoln, they had to delete it for copyright reasons. I pointed out that Lincoln quotes are not copyrighted and are a matter of...
Published 21 months ago by ZoneIII
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1,007 of 1,108 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A surprisingly balanced history, but not without its flaws.,
This review is from: A Patriot's History of the United States: From Columbus's Great Discovery to the War on Terror (Paperback)It is axiomatic that there are at least two sides to every story, so when I stumbled across this book at my local library I was drawn in by the back-cover blurb that proclaims the author's purpose to counter what he describes as the blame-America-first revisionist history that predominates in modern scholarship, as epitomized by Howard Zinn. The reference on the front cover to the author's "Limbaugh Letter" interview made it clear to me what this author's perspective would be. This will be an automatic turn-off for many politically liberal readers, and explains the love-it-or-hate-it nature of most reviews. Notwithstanding the author's very up-front and unapologetic conservative perspective, I found this to be surprisingly (and refreshingly) balanced in its presentation. To dismiss this book as mere liberal-bashing or an ideological exercise is a gross mischaracterization.
By way of a few examples, FDR would be an easy target for a conservative ideologue to bash, but he is treated with surprising fairness in this book. Yes, the author levels some criticism at Roosevelt's New Deal statism, but a few pages later he praises FDR's pre-war diplomatic efforts with Japan (even while criticizing his handling of Hitler), and takes special pains to debunk the urban legend that FDR knew in advance of the Pearl Harbor attack and let it happen to drag the U.S. into World War II. Similarly, Truman is criticized for some of his domestic policies, but praised for his handling of the Berlin Airlift, while Eisenhower (a Republican) is taken to task for perpetuating and even expanding FDR's New Deal programs. The author characterizes Kennedy, a Democrat, as "brilliant" in his handling of the Khrushchev letters during the Cuban Missile Crisis, even while ripping the ineptitude of JFK's broader Cuba policies. Nixon, a Republican, is upbraided for his big-government spending and welfare statism, but praised for his foreign policy achievements vis a vis China and the Soviet Union. Republican president George Bush (41) is praised for his coalition-building success in the first Gulf War, but is described as having a "lack of political imagination" and as having told a "bald-faced lie" to the American public with his broken "no new taxes" pledge. Even George Washington is not exempt from criticism, given his colossal military failures early in the Revolutionary War. In short, it is absolutely spurious to dismiss this book as a one-sided ideological hit piece.
The author unflinchingly displays the good, the bad and the ugly of all political figures and parties, alternately offering up both praise and criticism for each where warranted. A personality who is praised on one page is taken to task on the next, and vice versa throughout the book. That may seem like liberal-bashing to some, but that's just because they're unaccustomed to seeing their liberal brethren criticized in the history books, or seeing people from the opposite end of the political spectrum receive a fair shake. I think it's telling that many of those who condemn this book ostensibly because of the author's bias are nonetheless willing to praise Zinn's "People's History," which is far more lopsided in the other direction. To varying degrees, bias is inevitable in historical narratives because it is filtered through each author's experience and worldview. Some are better at restraining their bias, but to some extent it will always exist. Truth be told, the real issue for the critics isn't the existence of bias itself, but of a bias with which they disagree.
The book is not without its problems, however. As other reviewers have pointed out, there are a number of misprints or incorrect facts. For some examples: the date of the Burr/Hamilton duel is misstated in one place (but corrected elsewhere); Kasserine Pass could not be viewed as an Allied victory by even the most charitable assessments -- the Americans took a solid drubbing; on page 636 the author refers to Hitler when he meant to say Stalin, etc. Obviously there were some editorial lapses but, while these are mildly distracting to the attentive reader, they do not detract substantially from the overall quality and value of the book.
Returning to the question of the author's bias, it is clear that the reader is getting a different viewpoint than is usual. However, this normally comes out in challenges to the conventional wisdom backed by fresh analysis of the historical data. It is plain that the author has done his homework, as evidenced by some 70 pages of endnotes and citations. The author does occasionally slip into conservative editorializing, particularly toward the end of the book as he gets into his personal frame of reference, which is something that I find unacceptable in this or any other history book. Just the facts, please. Still, this volume provides some much needed balance to the historical debate that has been largely dominated by left-wing academics. After reading this book, it is fair to say with the venerable Paul Harvey, "now you know the REST of the story."
538 of 672 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Approach, Great Analysis with Some Detail Items Inaccurate,
This review is from: A Patriot's History of the United States: From Columbus's Great Discovery to the War on Terror (Paperback)I was predisposed to view the authors' approach favorably in that an antidote to the left-wing and Marxist textbooks currently in use in American public schools and colleges is sorely needed. In fact, there have been some studies that have shown many high school graduates to actually believe that the US is a dangerous aggressor nation, that capitalism is an evil, and that the only solution is socialism under a world government. Where did they learn this? In school, of course, and if they go on to college such absurd beliefs will be reinforced. One can only wonder where this will all lead.
The format of the book is to be commended, as well as the tenor of the writing. But keep your blue pencil out, because there are errors. For example, on page 78 the authors talk about Arnold's march to Quebec "Early in 1776" when it was actually made from September to November of 1775. There were not "many misguided" attempts to take Canada, but only two and it takes a lot of hindsight to label them "misguided." Canada was indeed the 14th colony, and although it seems today that efforts to incorporate it into the Continental government were doomed, it was nowise so certain at the time. Nor was Arnold's first attack on Quebec "repulsed" -- rather Arnold sent an emissary to demand the city's surrender which was refused since Maclean's Royal Highland Emigrant Regiment had arrived to defend the city. And saying that "Arnold staged a stubborn retreat that prevented British units under General Carleton from linking up with General Howe in New York" is a vast overstatement.
On page 79, Washington did not "pressed on to Princeton..." -- rather he went around Cornwallis to escape to winter quarters in northern New Jersey and collided with a British detachment at Princeton. The authors make it appear that Washington took Trenton, then pressed on to take Princeton. That was not the reality of the situation. The discussion of the various drafts of the Declaration of Independence is confusing and somewhat inaccurate -- the authors talk about the minor editing of the final draft, then go back to discuss the many revisions of the original draft, but missing Jefferson's railing at the Catholic Scots who were almost 100% Tories. Other errors include the equating of Howe's strategy of occupying the major American political and populations center with the American "strategic hamlet" policy in Vietnam that widely misses the mark. Categorizing most of the females among Burgoyne's camp followers as "prostitutes" is also simply incorrect. Nor did Burgoyne's foraging units even run into the "famed Green Mountain Boys commanded by Ethan Allen" -- poor Allen was a British prisoner in England at the time. Nor did the Americans march Burgoyne's men "...to Boston, where they boarded transports for England..." -- the negotiations fell through, and Burgoyne's troops spent the next six years in American captivity as the "Convention Army."
Okay, enough. The problem is that when authors are not entirely accurate with the details, should one believe the broader context? In this volume the answer is yes, but the errors in detail are simply jarring to an informed reader, and render the volume unusable in the classroom.
In addition, the authors miss the impact of Common Law as one of the pillars of American strength and individual freedom. The development of Common Law versus Civil Law needs to be incorporated in every history book so that the students can learn why the US is an exceptional nation. We are governed by a system of laws that are rooted in the opinions of the people -- the laws do not descend upon the people from the King, Emperor, supreme religious authority or any other remote law-giver. The people determine and make the law here in the US -- the only nation so organized in the world today if one discounts Great Britain due to its follies and political subjugation to the EU.
What is needed is for the authors to produce a second edition, one that has been carefully combed for factual errors, whether by actual statement or by inference. Yes, a volume that purports to present the truth in a uplifting and patriotic manner needs to be held to a higher standard than the Marxist garbage by Howard Zinn that is so favored by the academic community. One does not need to wonder about their agenda, and truth does have a way of ultimately coming out. The United States has done more good for the world than any other nation in history, and Americans can take pride in its history -- for all of its warts and fits. The authors are correct on this score, but let's reduce the errors so that those how oppose the US won't be able to discount this work due to its many errors.
I wrote my review upon reading the hardcover edition of 2004.
The authors have indeed come out with a new printing that corrects most of the errors I tripped over. They are to be commended for addressing the criticisms of a reader and correcting their narrative. As a result I increased my rating from three to four stars. The authors are currently working on another edition that is intended to eliminate all errors, and upon seeing that edition in print my remarks will be changed to reflect the accuracy of the facts to five stars and I'll eliminate all of the above discourse on the detail errors I found. In addition, a 2nd Edition is in the works that will no doubt eliminate my remaining points and strengthen the book. Frankly, I hope it will come out sooner rather than later.
This is an important work that rights the wrongs done to our school children by Marxist textbooks, and should be present in every household.
Absolutely recommended most highly.
25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing viewpoint but has an incredible number of factual errors,
This review is from: A Patriot's History of the United States: From Columbus's Great Discovery to the War on Terror (Paperback)I had written a review of this book previously and I came back to make a minor edit to that review only to find that it no longer exists. I contacted Amazon to ask why it had been deleted and they said that, because it included quotes by Abraham Lincoln, they had to delete it for copyright reasons. I pointed out that Lincoln quotes are not copyrighted and are a matter of public domain but, even I quoted someone else, that is not a copyright issue because of fair use laws and also because the quotes give credit to the original author. Amazon agreed and apologized profusely for their error. I won't try to reconstruct my previous rather lengthly review but I will summarize it by saying that allow this book reflects a refreshing viewpoint that is sadly missing these days, it is so riddled with factual errors that it is almost unbelievable. There are trivial to major errors on just about every page. I listed many of them in my previous review but I will only mention a couple in this review.
1) As unbelievable as it sounds, the author actually claims that John Wilkes Booth killed himself! I'm not kidding. He says that Booth "shot himself to death." Even a grade-schooler knows better!
2) He claims that Sherman hated Lincoln and he actually used the word "hated" and mentioned it several times in the book. That is absolute nonsense. It is true that Sherman was not impressed with Lincoln after his first informal meeting with him but he grew to have great respect as the war went on and he even acknowledge Lincoln's greatness. But the author claims that Sherman absolutely hated Lincoln! Pure nonsense.
3) The author actually claims that Lincoln was not only a Christian but that he became a reborn Christian later in life. Nothing could be further from the truth as anyone who knows anything about Lincoln knows. I have had an intense interest in Lincoln for most of my 63 years and among the literally hundreds of books I have on the subject are all the great biographies and not one respected authority on the subject would claim that Lincoln was a Christian, let alone a reborn Christian. I have even read every word of the Collected Works. Even Lincoln's own family, associates, and friends all confirmed that Lincoln was not a Christian. Lincoln even said so himself! In fact, he ridiculed Christian dogma. On the other hand, Lincoln was not an atheist but he most definitely was not a Christian. The author is clearly attempting to impose his own beliefs onto Lincoln. That is inexcusable.
This book contains a higher density of factual errors than any history book I can ever remember reading. What concerns me is not so much the errors themselves but the carelessness of an author who makes so many glaring errors. However, I do agree with the thrust of the book.
315 of 428 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comments from a College History Professor and former High School Teacher,
This review is from: A Patriot's History of the United States: From Columbus's Great Discovery to the War on Terror (Hardcover)I've been in the history business for over thirty years. Starting as an "educator" at the middle school and high school level. Though in short order I changed my own definition of self, saying I was a history teacher fighting against "educators" who were supremely ignorant when it came to real content knowledge of their subjects. I finally left secondary ed in disgust in the late 1980s, went back full time to grad school, got a Ph.D. in American History and went into the college classroom where at least, at my small private school, I still have intellectual freedom. I've also published a number of books on a national level, and that is how I first met one of the authors of this work when he commented on my latest book.
I think I therefore have a good foundation to comment here and my comment is. . .I wish across the last thirty years I had a book like this to use in my classrooms!
My own education was influenced by Beard and others like him when I was a student, and as a new teacher I taught the myths of a rather leftist perspective of our national epic. But as I matured and learned more I finally abandoned all textbook use in disgust. Anyone conversant on the subject knows my reasons, written by committees, written with a very clear bias to political correctness, outright distortions and numerous factual errors, written at times with a barely concealed disdain for our nation's story. It is made worst by alleged critics and commentators such as Loewen with his tirade "Lies my Teachers Told Me," which is riddled with factual errors and deliberate distortions, and pushes the rhetoric even further to the Left while claiming to be about getting the story right.
This book, however, is like a wind stirring up after a dark storm of bias and ignorance, which tries to set the record straight on so many points. For the first time I have a history book that calls into doubt the wisdom of FDR's New Deal, the myth that he ended the Depression (when in reality the punitive taxes of up to 90% and government interference made it worst), and spawned the real beginnings of run away government.
Their take on the anti war movement in the 1960s is absolutely scathing, and truthful. I was there and personally witnessed several of the events described. . . how the anti-war movement on college campuses was not an "enlightened" desire for peace, but rather a rampage gone wild, adroitly engineered by a small well trained cadre of ultra-leftists, a phenomena that still haunts our higher education system today, and has produced a generation of lies and text book distortions as well.
I could cite a dozen more examples from their book that left me grinning with delight, that the truth was finally out there to read again. My only criticism, some minor factual errors, but relatively few when compared to standard textbooks, and for a monumental work of this length.
I know the author's intent was simply to write an American history for the general public and do not want it type cast as a "textbook," and I go along with that. But, I will nevertheless forcefully recommend it as a textbook. . .and that recommendation comes from a college professor, with years experience in secondary education and for several years, even taught history teacher education (a nightmare experience dealing with the state and federal departments of education that I should write a book about some day. It was like dealing with Orwellian thought police!)
If you are a history teacher, and I choose that term deliberately. . .not an "educator," caught up in the system, but instead see yourself as a History Teacher, who takes pride in our country and wish to guide students to a sharing of that pride. . .this is your textbook.
It will work on the secondary level and most definitely on the higher ed level. But a warning, your colleagues will howl, harass and attack you over it and frankly you better have tenure if you wish to survive when you bring this book out. By the way, within this book you will read why you need that protection.
For home schoolers, this book is your dream. You left the system for so many reasons and this book will explain many of those reasons.
I hope this book is the first of many that will start to take back the ground dominated for too long by the Left, and beyond that an extremist element who actually hate the subject they write about.
If you are a parent with a student trapped in the system, make this book required reading at home and use it to "reeducate" and fight back. And finally, for the general reader, this one is a rousing good read, well written, great footnotes to follow up on (something you find lacking in nearly all textbooks) and worth studying.
America is not about national race, it is about an ideal. Ultimately we are all immigrants, be we born here or arrived just yesterday. All that holds us together is a shared identification with the dreams of our patriot forefathers and a belief in the ideals of the Declaration and Constitution. Disconnect from that dream for but one generation and the dream will die. This book can help to rekindle what nearly all of us know in our hearts, that though we might make mistakes, fundamentally America is, as Lincoln once said, "the last best hope of mankind."
A college professor in western NC
277 of 381 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Balance the Record,
This review is from: A Patriot's History of the United States: From Columbus's Great Discovery to the War on Terror (Hardcover)First, I must point out that I am a 30-year critic of American academia, especially departments of humanities (or "Arts & sciences"). I am a former dual PhD candidate who left academia in 1980 and never looked back. I battled Political Correctness before it had a name.
There are few good scholars on our campuses, a fact that has not changed over the centuries. Less than 10% of tenured Professors publish anything beyond their dissertation, which may be a good thing. Of the more prominent of those who do publish, most of them and their "works" are forgotten before they retire (and the in-thing is to cash in on early retirement offers). Too often, students professors "know" to be mediocre or not cut out to be graduate students are actively recruited for graduate school, by graduate status professors.
As a group, professors treat graduate students like canon fodder. Why? In order to fill unfilled seats. Most state legislators cut funding for seats that go unfilled.
Professors have no intention of placing their reputation or status on a limb by trying to place mediocre graduate students. Many of them go on to be social misfits. Our public universities are not just diploma mills. Worse than than they manufacture misfits. Look around any large public university and you will find hundreds of people with graduate and PhD degrees working book store counters, pushing brooms down University halls, working stoop laborer joba in natural foods super markets or area distribution warehouses and clerking in snack outlets like Starbucks & Sushi Palace. More than a few become thorns for local employers and managers as over educated armchair "experts" who "know" better than management or owners how the firm should be run.
I have waited many years for a few honorable tenured professors to publish a truthful account of what I have outlined above. I still wait. I am delighted that two seasoned professors mustered the courage to write and publish a much needed criticism and corrective of what too often passes for academic history.
Believe me. It took courage to publish "Patriots History..." The authors will get much grief from many other academic historians for daring to write a real critique of American History writing. Other professors who agree with the authors will choose silence and a few will even criticize "Patriots History..." in vain attempt to be less hated by the left liberal academics they must interact with on campus.
I highly recommend that all literate or "educated" people read this book. It will balance your image of our past that you were likely force fed. I strongly advise that you pay no attention to those who trash this book and its authors. Keep in mind that when you read a history, you do not read scientific data about the past. That is impossible. What you read is writing based on written documents. A lot of judgement calls and opinion go into writing any history. The less broadly educated the author, the less value will be that authors attempt to reconstruct the past. Too many academic historians today never even attempt to reconstruct the past, which is supposed to be the historian's illusive craft. They let you think that is what they try to do but what too many of them do is try to use written documents and highly dense or very smooth prose to support their personal social-political ideology.
History writing is a form of literature. At its best, it is scholarly literature, which means most of it penned by academics is not worth reading. No one, for instance, should be awarded a PhD in American History who does not have a firm grasp on world history, a decent start in studying the Western Canon & general understanding of pre-Renaissance philosophy. Many PhD degrees in American History are awarded to people who do not know even one foreign language or have any interest in the world beyond the United States. One would think mastery of written Spanish, an easy language for an American to learn, would be a minimum requirement for any American History PhD candidate but it isn't!
Many allegedly "educated" people worship at the feet of Historian Howard Zinn. These ideologues will automatically attack "Patriot's History...". About them, I leave you with this thought. Zinn's major work, "A People's History of the United States" is highly selective in what it covers & it skips over the many issues that left liberal academics tend skip over. For instance, is American slavery the remarkable thing about our past, or is the fact that for the first time in history people rose and organized--in England and in America--against slavery and would not rest until they wiped it out all over the world. The Anti-Slavery Society remains active and it is a Western, white guy, organization. (by the way, I am not 'white') Why are there hundreds of books on Black Slavery but not one history of a larger group, the white indentured and bonded servants? Why are there no studies of how Americans came to drop white indentured servitude? They were cheaper than slaves. Why are American slavery studies done out of context? That is, why isn't slavery studied within its proper context, labor history? Why do labor historians ignore indentured servitude as well as slavery?
I do not suggest that "Patriot's History..." is a perfect book or that it contains the 'whole truth'. Neither do the authors.
54 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Compendium,
41 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A valuable source book,
If you doubt that American history has been rewritten, go to a used book store and find older books and compare them with books published after the 50s and 60s. Find out what has been excluded, whitewashed, distorted, spun or misrepresented. You can still do this. If you do not, your children may not be able to do so.
115 of 158 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beware of distortions contained in the reviews,
This review is from: A Patriot's History of the United States: From Columbus's Great Discovery to the War on Terror (Hardcover)A lot of negative reviews here claim that important, but inconvenient, facts are omitted in this book, such as Iran-Contra affair. This is to prove that the book has a "Republican' bias. One of the reviewers, for example, supposedly a history teacher, named Pentz says:"[the book] Does Not Even Make Mention Of IRAN-CONTRA!" (sic)
The search function reveals that IRAN-CONTRA IS MENTIONED TWICE (using caps so the old lib professor can see it) on pages 721 and 761. Two-thirds of page 761 is devoted to the affair starting with: "A more serious reverse for the Reagan agenda came in November 1986 [...]" Even sounds pretty critical of Reagan...
Check for yourself. Page 761 is available for viewing here on Amazon.
Now, how can you believe a word of the rest of Pentz' story about the exchange he allegedly had with Prof. Schweikart, the author of this book? Pentz states: "I asked about this conspicuous omission and was told that he [Schweikart] didn't think IRAN-CONTRA was significant enough to make it into print." And this liar teaches our students?? Teaches them how to "detect bias"?! What is going on in this country?
A more general comment: I have been reading Amazon reviews for a long time now. Most of the one-star reviews that are critical of "conservative" (however you define it) books reveal complete lack of familiarity with the book or the arguments contained within it. A LOT of them are one to two sentences in length. They bring down the ratings but contribute nothing to the conversation.
Read this book. After years of liberal lies and distortions, it's your civic duty.
158 of 218 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cure for history-starved students of all ages,
78 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History Is More Than A Fable Agreed Upon,
In A PATRIOT'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, Larry Schweikart and Michael Allan have admittedly tried to and have succeeded in finding a viable middle ground between a jingoistic extolling of the virtues of a United States that shines as a beacon to the rest of the world and a Marxist view as set forth by Howard Zinn in his A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES who sees only a long and lamentable trail of the broken shards of American history that even now remain painfully embedded in the collective backs of any American who is non-white or non-Euro-centered.
Schweikart and Allan do not gloss over the many injustices done to Native Americans and other minorities who have not only suffered the injustice of being denied the most basic rights of life and liberty, but have further been denied their rightful place in our history texts. The authors make it clear that such injustices as genocide, slavery, and economic disenfranchisement were all too often the common order of the day. What the Marxist Zinn in his text sets out to do is to state that such injustices were not only the order of the day for one day but were so for every day beginning with the first day that Columbus stepped forth on Hispanola. What Schweikart and Allan counter with is that as wrong as it was to claim in an earlier age that the United States could do no wrong as far as its treatment of Native Americans and blacks were concerned, it is equally wrong to claim its opposite. The growth of the United States as it actually occurred was a normal and predictable result given the age and the mindsets involved. They do not--as Zinn relentlessly does--attempt to foist the current politically correct dogma of the United States as inherently evil now and in all centuries past. Rather, they portray the slow growth of the American republic, warts and all, but without losing sight of the eyes on the prize. American history, then, they depict is the combination of both good and evil. It is only those who still see past and current events through the now defunct critical lens of a failed Marxist dogma who continually cry out that Stalinist Russia and Castro Cuba are vastly a more preferable paradise than the United States of Schweikart and Allan.
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A Patriot's History of the United States: From Columbus's Great Discovery to the War on Terror by Larry Schweikart (Paperback - February 27, 2007)