- Series: Don't Know Much About Series
- Hardcover: 704 pages
- Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (April 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060083816
- ISBN-13: 978-0060083816
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (336 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,354,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Don't Know Much About History: Everything You Need to Know About American History but Never Learned (Don't Know Much About Series) Hardcover – April 1, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Davis, author of the trademarked series of Don't Know Much About primers, seeks to dispel public boredom and ignorance about history and correct mistakes about various historical events in this update of his bestselling survey of American history. He arranges the book around a series of short essays on questions ranging from the basic (e.g., "Why did the southern states secede from the United States?") to the esoteric ("What was Teddy Roosevelt's grandson doing in Iran?"), intended to crystallize larger themes in our country's past. Davis's engaging treatment is spicy but judicious. He notes sex scandals from Alexander Hamilton's to Bill Clinton's, tamps out JFK conspiracy theories and speculation about J. Edgar Hoover's cross-dressing, and debunks myths like the legend of Betsy Ross and the movie Mississippi Burning. He provides sharply drawn, even-handed accounts of controversies, and his verdicts are generally well considered. Unfortunately, because discussions are usually tied to colorful personalities, heroic movements and dramatic crises, processes that are quiet but profound, such as the post-war rise of suburbia and the decline of unions, tend to get slighted. There's lots of history to browse through here, but little historiography to tie it together; while the book is far superior to standard high-school treatments, and a valuable reference for students young and old, it still leaves the impression that history is just one damn thing after another.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This revised edition of a book Davis wrote 13 years ago is part of a series that includes Don't Know Much about the Civil War (1996) and Don't Know Much about Geography (1992). As in other volumes in the series, Davis strives to dispel myths and misconceptions about American history that he asserts people have learned in school. This updated version covers, chronologically, topics from the migration routes of Native Americans to the destruction of the Twin Towers. In his zeal to correct these misconceptions, Davis frequently employs a condescending and irritating tone. In truth, many of his "corrections" are unnecessary because most reasonably well-informed Americans are already aware of them. Still, if one can get past the smugness, there is considerable merit in this book, especially for laypeople. It is replete with interesting tidbits of information that can enrich one's general historical knowledge and stoke interest in further reading. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
This is my first Kindle book (I'm reading it on a mac) so maybe this is an issue of the medium, but I find the formatting pretty clunky, and the lack of photos, images, and maps is unfortunate.
For that I give it 4 stars.
I agree re: the commentary re: liberal bias. It is pronounced.
However, the author frequently presented both sides of the issue on a given subject, so there are of plenty of nods to fairness. I felt the treatment of the founding fathers to be respectful and balanced. As the subject material gets closer to the present day, the bias becomes more evident.
(The mention of the legendary smallpox blanket gifts to the Indians was gratuitous, I thought, given how uncertain the facts are on the subject. Yes, there was at least one incident during the French and Indian War. But it was neither official policy nor widespread as is commonly believed.)
But the audiobook is solid, chunky with information, and presented with a lively narrative.
To sit down and read all about the actions of one person or another could be boring, but Kenneth Davis has taken that same history and made it interesting. He tells the History of different subject in such a way that you shake your head and wonder just how things could happen that way.
Listening to history, or the highlights of history as he presents it can cause you to shake your head and wonder just what people where thinking, or WHERE they thinking about some of the things that have happen, and how did the stories that we hear today get started.
ALL of Kenneth C. Davis books are well worth the investment not only to learn the important parts of history, but to shake your head at some of the stupid people who have been making all the history before our time
Kenneth C. Davis gives a very realistic picture of what was going good and wrong during the American history, and the influence in their concerned world.
Again, the right literature that fills in the gaps of what we really didn't know.