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33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask Hardcover – July 10, 2007

4.0 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Woods (The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History) argues that the history lessons schoolchildren learn are ideologically driven distortions aimed at producing citizens who believe that big government is good and big business is evil. He aims to set the record straight. He says that Americans have been fed propaganda about the origins of Social Security, which is nothing more than a tax. Indeed, Woods thinks nothing good came out of the New Deal, which, far from lifting the U.S. out of the Great Depression, actually prolonged the nation's economic woes. Much of the book touches on issues of race: desegregating public schools hasn't really helped black children; racial discrimination is not the main cause of the gap between blacks' and whites' salaries; and Martin Luther King Jr. was a dangerous radical who sought an immediate, palpable improvement in blacks' material condition, a vision he thought could be achieved by racial quotas and socialism. Blacks, according to Woods, should model themselves not on King, but on an enterprising if oft forgotten 20th-century self-made man, S.B. Fuller. (July 10)
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From Booklist

Spread among current events and constitutional law, Woods' 33 questions extend his criticism of liberal viewpoints on American history elaborated in The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History (2004). Ideas that the Constitution is a "living" document, that the New Deal ended the Depression, and that foreign aid alleviates world poverty are some nostrums the author critiques, while others are more populist. Should you heed, for example, historians' rankings of presidents? Perhaps as measurements of the history profession's ideological tilt, avers Woods, who holds that such lists favor big-government presidents and slight little-government types such as Cleveland and Coolidge. Woods is also concerned that the concept of states rights is viewed negatively, so several questions probe its con-law pedigree and the assertion that it, more than slavery, is what the South fought for in the Civil War. Alighting rather disconnectedly on "the biggest unknown scandal of the Clinton years," George Washington Carver's scientific significance, and Social Security, Woods is at least consistent in maintaining that Americans' historical awareness is befogged by myths. Marketed through conservative media, the assertive Woods will generate requests. Taylor, Gilbert

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Forum; First Edition edition (July 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307346684
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307346681
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Andrew S. Rogers VINE VOICE on July 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As historian Thomas E. Woods, Jr., notes on page 78 of this important new book, "the modern state trains its citizens to think" in a certain way. Whether the issue is the role of the State in regulating the economy ... how racial minorities can succeed ... or how we should judge success or failure in a politician, a narrow range of opinions has been deemed acceptable by Establishment Left and Establishment Right. Questions that could lead to different conclusions are ones "we're not supposed to ask."

Tom Woods is out to change that. Picking up where he left off in "The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History," the author again plays Manolete to the Establishment's sacred cows. But he's after more, I think, than just a tasty barbecue.

Some of the questions here are ones people are actively discouraged from answering the "wrong" way -- questions about the causes of the Civil War, the influence of unions, the effectiveness of desegregation as a tool for improving education, or the validity of PC mythology about native Americans. Other questions confront conventional wisdom so solidly entrenched that the questions don't occur to most people in the first place: what if the Depression wasn't a failure of capitalism, and what if the New Deal didn't save us? But the most interesting questions, I think, are the ones you have to look deeply into American history even to discover the context of the questions, so thoroughly have they been buried under official neglect: Why does the Whiskey Rebellion matter; what does the "elastic clause" really mean; or what if the presidency wasn't meant to be what it is today?
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Format: Hardcover
33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed to Ask is a wonderful book through and through. It should upset every public educator that picks it up. The separation between what's taught in our public schools and what Woods maintains is true is absolutely stunning. Cutting a swath through topics about the pilgrims, discrimination, race relations, law, the constitution, labor unions, and even Bill Clinton, 33 Questions is a lesson in civics and history.

What's really scary is that Woods backs up what he writes with sound research and "reasoned reason." I'd be hard put to pick the most important chapter but I do have a favorite or three.

Chapter One, "Did the Founding Fathers Support Immigration?" is an eye opener. Perhaps the most stinging chapter is chapter 3; "Were the American Indians Really Environmentalist?" is the most surprising. According to Woods the native Americans used fire to bend the environment to their purpose. Quoting Woods..." Some indian fires, spreading for weeks at a time over several hundred thousand square miles, utterly destroyed plant and animal life. Grassland fires in the northern plains, for instance, did substantial damage to the buffalo population..." This is certain to raise eyebrows among the environmentalists who insist upon holding the native Americans as the ultimate caretakers of the natural world.

I could go on but the fact is that each chapter is interesting and will absolutely cause debate among all who read.

33 Questions About American History You're Not Supposed To Ask is a book that has been needed for a long time. Whether you agree with all the information that is included isn't important. What is important is that there seems to be another side to many of our most dearly held beliefs. In other words, PC history may not be the history we should believe in.

Enjoy the read.
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Format: Hardcover
I didn't know how to rate the book: 5 stars because it was interesting and useful "food for thought"? 1 star because a lot it was recycled, either from Mr. Woods' earlier book or other authors and seemed to leave out alternative arguments? Ultimately, I split the difference.

I thought the strength of the book was its focusing on specific issues that could spark further research and awareness. I come from a generation of American schoolchildren that were taught such a reduced version of American history that I wouldn't be surprised if my less historically-minded classmates (which is, frankly, 95% of them) only remember that the American Indians were noble environmentalists who all but wrote the U.S. Constitution, the Civil War was fought in the 1960s to by M.L.K.Jr. to win civil rights, and capitalism is an evil that increased government programs can correct by giving us all more goodies.

Another strength was in questioning commonly accepted - by the average citizen - beliefs in such ideas that the U.S. traditionally welcomed immigrants, or that school desegregation has helped black schoolchildren, or that discrimination is primarily responsible for income differences, or that liberals have always been anti-war/ anti-imperialists.

The weakness of the book, in my opinion, arises from the fact that many questions were either not too important, not too original (i.e., historians have already been asking the questions "you're not supposed to ask" - and not just in recent, obscure books either), a matter of opinion (even more than such questions usually are), or were phrased and answered in such a way that left out some pretty important info.

Is it so important to question George Washington Carver's scientific status?
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