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That's Not in My American History Book: A Compilation of Little-Known Events and Forgotten Heroes [Kindle Edition]

Thomas Ayres
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Book Description

History classes reduce America's story into a dry litany of dates, names, and places. That's Not in My American History Book tackles the messy details, reclaims disregarded heroes, and sets the record straight. This book explains why July 4th isn't really Independence Day, reveals 19th century mudslinging that labels Andrew Jackson a "murderer," and even unveils the only vice president with a number-one pop hit. With insight, wit, and irreverence, Ayres uncovers our overlooked past.

Editorial Reviews


A fascinating, irresistible, behind-the-scenes look at historical events that you only 'thought' you knew about. Thomas Ayres knows just where to look for those rare nuggets that capture the imagination, and he relates them all in such an appealing way. (Darwin Payne, Professor Emeritus at Southern Methodist University and author of Big D: Triumphs and Troubles of An American Supercity in th)

That's Not in My American History the reader fascinating stories on the history of America that is not taught in our schools, and that knocks down the many prevailing myths concerning events in our American saga. This book was a joy to read and should be viewed as the 'real' story of our nation's saga, without the blemishes and politically correctness that we have for so long been used to. Go get it. (Back Channels Magazine)

Riveting true tales of our less-celebrated national past. Comprehensive and witty. (Virginian-Pilot)

There is just no way to get bored by what he reports. Had my history text in school been this interesting, I may have majored in history. (The Republican)

...[T]he kind of refreshing research found in this illuminating treasury of American history [is] most likely not found in the text books you read in school. (Post-Tribune)

Perhaps so few people ... seem to know or care about American history because their teachers bored them into catatonia from grade school on ... if they would only read this little gem of a book ... [they] would find a whole new area of human knowledge in which to immerse themselves. (Advance)

This compilation of little-known events and heroes gathers all the juicy stories edited out of history textbooks. (Bookwatch)

Investigative reporter Thomas Ayresis sets history straight. (Publishers Weekly)

Ayers' conjectures and sidelights ... put life into what is very often a boring subject for school-aged children. (Denver Post)

Here, finally, is a history book that can be enjoyed by everyone. It approaches history for what it really is-stories of people doing interesting, courageous, and crazy things. Tom Ayres turns history into something that is fun as well as important. (Jim Lehrer)

Comprehensive. Witty. (Virginian - Pilot)

Product Details

  • File Size: 5809 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing (April 27, 2004)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006MCG9Q4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,207,414 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History like it should be taught January 1, 2006
Prior to reading this book, I had already known some of these things (e.g., Israel Bissel finished Paul Revere's ride after Revere was captured early on, Betsy Ross had nothing to do with the creation of the American flag), but a lot of these stories and facts I had never even heard about. Some of them will appeal to certain people more than others (for example, someone who's not interested in sports might not be that captivated by the story of Louis "Sock" Sockalexis, the original Cleveland Brave), but overall these are very interesting historical tidbits from a wide variety of subjects and eras. As someone devoted to historical truth and memory, it really makes me angry that so many unsuspecting schoolchildren are still being taught that urban legends and outright lies are undisputed historical facts. Knowing the truth behind these stories doesn't have to change the basic message; for example, just because Nathan Hale's alleged last words "I regret that I have but one life to give for my country" were really penned after he'd been dead for five months doesn't change the fact that he was still a very brave young man who did give his life for his country. Knowing that the Wright Brothers were by no means the first people to invent and fly an aeroplane doesn't change the fact that they were still pioneering aviators and inventors. More history books should be written like this, witty and engaging, unafraid to knock down sacred cows that have been standing for a long time. I also enjoyed the foreword, "A Note About 'Politically Correct' History." Mr. Read more ›
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Rummaging Through the Scrap Heap of History August 10, 2008
In the introduction to "That's not in my American History Book," Thomas Ayres exposes the fact that the typical high school student knows very little about history. HeThomas then begins to prove why that supposition is true by the bits of "unknown" history he musters to support his case.

Did you know that Franklin Roosevelt had polio? Um, yeah. Did you also know that Jonas Salk cured polio? Um, yeah. Did you know that Benjamin Franklin was a printer, a writer, a diplomat AND an inventor? Um, yeah. Did you know that Thomas Paine was an influential pamphleteer during the American Revolution? Um, yeah. Did you know that Benedict Arnold was the real hero of the Battle of Saratoga? Um, yeah.

Then there are the things I didn't know... either because they are patently false or mis-stated. For example, did you know that "Nolichunky Jack" was the President of the State of Franklin, the unaccepted "14th state of the Union?" Well, no, I never heard of "Nolichunky" Jack, but if you are talking about "Nolichucky" Jack Sevier (the first governor of Tenessee), then, yes, yes I did. Did you know that the British own California? Um, no. The source material for this "revelation" was the discovery of Drake's Plate of Brass in California which turned out to be a playful hoax - which goes to show that historical chicanery can be fun (see, for example, Piltdown: A Scientific Forgery, Based on Research by Ian Langham (1942) Did you know that John Wilkes Booth may have escaped capture by the US Government after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln? C'mon, we are now approaching Oliver Stone and JFK - Director's Cut (Two-Disc Special Edition) territory.

I was fascinated by the premise of the book but it, unfortunately, turned out to be a waste of time.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is Entertaining, Informative and really FUN February 13, 2002
By Marc S.
More history writers should write like Thomas Ayres.
"That's Not in my American History Book" is very refreshing.
Not the watered-down, approved by the school board type of
history books we all were force to read in school. In short
entertaining stories, Ayres captures our nation's little known
history, warts and all. Some of it is just plain funny. The way the author relates it is just plain fun. My favorite quote
from the book is in the introduction, when Ayres writes:
"After all, irony and humor have never been missing from history -- just historians." That's great! Loved it!
I read Thomas Ayres' most recent book also. It's called:
"Dark and Bloody Ground." It's about the Civil War in Louisiana
and it is also an excellent book.
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31 of 40 people found the following review helpful
This book is shockingly inaccurate. I gave up reading it after finding that 2 of the first 6 articles were just factual nonsense:

- "Do the British Own America?" is based entirely on the Drake Plate, which was shown to be a forgery in the 1970s.

- "A Civil War Story" is a mythical story of the origin of taps, one debunked in the 19th century.

Don't even think about reading this book unless you're willing to follow it up with further internet exploration to separate the facts from the fiction. Obviously the author wasn't.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars That's Not in My American History Book October 2, 2001
I have not read the entire book but at least one of the stories about the origin of Taps is incorrect. Here's the real story:
Of all the American military bugle calls, none is so easily recognized or more apt to render emotional reactions than the 24 notes of the eloquent and haunting melody, Taps. It's a song that usually leaves a lump in throats and creates tears in our eyes. However, because its history is so interesting and clouded in controversy, its origin is worthy of further study.
Until the Civil War, the infantry bugle call for Lights Out had been borrowed from the French and set down in Silas Casey's manual, Tactics. The music for Taps was changed by Union Brigadier General Daniel Adams Butterfield for use by his unit (Third Brigade, First Division, Fifth Army Corps, Army of the Potomac) in July 1862 while they were quartered at Harrison's Landing (Berkeley Plantation) in Virginia following the Seven Day's battle during the Peninsular Campaign.
Butterfield was born in Utica, New York on October 31, 1831 and graduated from Union College at Schenectady. He was a New York merchant and 1st Sergeant with the Clay Guards, a volunteer militia unit, when the Civil War broke out. On May 2, 1861, he led the 12th Regiment of the New York State Militia to Washington as its Colonel. Ten days later, he was commissioned a Lt. Colonel in the regular army where he commanded the 8th Brigade 3rd Division in the Shenandoah Valley during the First Bull Run campaign.
He was promoted to Brigadier General U.S. Volunteers in September 1861 and given command of the 3rd Brigade 1st Division (under Brigadier General George Morell) V Corps of the Army of the Potomac.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read!
Loved this book, read it once, loaned it out. I need to buy another.
Published 15 days ago by Funk
Historical revisionism is an often misunderstood term. There are two versions of it one positive, one negative. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jeremy A. Perron
4.0 out of 5 stars Good funny history
Good funny history. Make one believe that what is printed in text books is not fact but common understanding.
Published 5 months ago by Andrew Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Now that is the rest of the story
After reading this book I now know the rest of some of the greatest history stories ever told. Many of the stories in our American history books are the stories that make up... Read more
Published 12 months ago by David J. White
5.0 out of 5 stars great book!
This was an absolutely fascinating book! I love the writhing style of the author and his ability to grip the reader. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Laura
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting
This was a good book. It taught me some new things and reminded me of details I had forgotten. I would recommend.
Published 21 months ago by Larry Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars gift for my 24 year old son
My 24 year old History buff son called me to let me know how much he liked this book! He said it was very interesting! (and he called his mother!!!)
Published 23 months ago by CB
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
Great Chirstmas present for any history buff wanting to learn something they haven't learned before! Includes interesting facts not known to many. A great buy!
Published 24 months ago by Winston
3.0 out of 5 stars Take Some Facts With a Grain of Salt
This is a collection of essays about the myths that still surround events in American history despite efforts to quell them, the most obvious being "facts" like the people of... Read more
Published on September 18, 2012 by L. M Young
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun read.
I read this book on a road trip. It was a great way to pass the time. I still pass along trivia and facts I learned from the book. Read more
Published on January 21, 2012 by Unky Ben
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