19 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Some startling errors made it into this book,
This review is from: American History Revised: 200 Startling Facts That Never Made It into the Textbooks (Paperback)
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It took me a very long time to read this book, because I could not resist checking each fact as I came across it, and there are a great many facts to check. Unfortunately, I often found them to be wrong. Other reviewers have listed some of the errors, but have nonetheless recommended the book and given it a high rating. I can't do that. For me, the many errors quite simply invalidate the book. A "Did you know that...?" anecdote is somewhat spoiled if it turns out that what the listener did not know is not true anyway.
I will content myself with just one example, one that I don't think another reviewer has mentioned yet, which is the reference (page xvi) to why the British drive on the left-hand side of the road. The author's explanation is:
"Back in the early days of the automobile, all cars had the steering wheel on the right. This was because most roads were unpaved, and the driver wanted to make sure he didn't drive off the path into the ditch. Then came along Henry Ford, who moved the steering wheel to the left. He foresaw the day of paved roads and fast cars, when the driver's main concern would be the oncoming traffic."
Now that makes no sense. The British drove their horse-drawn vehicles on the left long before the automobile arrived, and that tradition continued. So a steering wheel on the right would not have enabled the driver to see the ditch. So how can that explain why they drive on the left? Besides, it is simply not true that all early cars had the steering wheel on the right.
A book like this is of little use if you can't trust its accuracy. And you can't.
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 25, 2010 2:25:17 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 26, 2010 9:16:57 PM PDT]
Posted on Sep 25, 2010 2:25:59 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 25, 2010 2:26:31 PM PDT]
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 25, 2010 6:23:30 PM PDT
Do you find the author's explanation of why the British drive on the left-hand side of the road `credible'? If so, explain why.
Posted on Sep 26, 2010 5:12:30 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 26, 2010 9:16:43 PM PDT]
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 26, 2010 3:14:03 PM PDT
It was indeed a comment in the Preface, along with many other `Startling Facts'. That does not excuse it for not making sense.
And no, I have no difficulty in viewing America as a forward-thinking nation, despite what your prejudice may lead you to believe. Your phrase `Englishman computer programmer' is rather awkward, but it served to remind me of yet another error in the book. With characteristic carelessness, Morris refers to James Bryce as an Englishman (page 128).
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 26, 2010 4:11:32 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 26, 2010 9:16:26 PM PDT]
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 26, 2010 4:50:11 PM PDT
You would do well to double-check your facts before making a fool of yourself.
James Bryce was born in Belfast, Ireland, to Scottish parents. He was raised in Scotland. He can thus justifiably be termed Scotch-Irish or British, or possibly Scottish. Usually, he is referred to as British. Only someone with a very poor grasp of history would commit the blunder of calling him English.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 26, 2010 6:23:37 PM PDT
That's rather odd. In this post, you originally had, '...hard to swallow for an Englishman computer programmer'. After I remarked on the awkwardness of the phrase, you edited it to read, '...hard to swallow (for an "Englishman, ex computer programmer"). '
Have you somehow contrived for me to lose my job, or were you just keen to introduce another Startling Fact?
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 26, 2010 9:20:31 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 26, 2010 10:21:45 PM PDT
Posted on Oct 4, 2010 9:41:08 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Dec 21, 2010 5:18:56 AM PST]