- Paperback: 212 pages
- Publisher: Ludwig von Mises Institute (2009)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00275PS2Q
- Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,922,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Why American History Is Not What They Say: An Introduction to Revisionism Paperback – 2009
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Subtitled "An Introduction to Revisionism," I expected this title to be almost bibliographical in certain ways, telling the reader "If you want to get the revisionist story on Pearl Harbor," for example, "read this title by Harry Elmer Barnes. For the straight dope on Abraham Lincoln, start with Thomas DiLorenzo, the follow with X and Y." And there is a little bit of that: the core of this book is author Jeff Riggenbach's walk through American history as the revisionists tell it, with emphasis not only on key revisionist historians, but also on the eras of American history that have attracted the most revisionist attention, namely the War Between the States and the two world wars.
But that's only the start.
Or, describing its physical placement in the book, that's only the middle. Riggenbach in fact starts us out, somewhat surprisingly, with a survey of the novels of Gore Vidal, making the case for Vidal as a significant revisionist historian in his own right. At first, I frankly found this a little annoying, since I don't read a lot of fiction and was in a hurry to get to the "real" historians. But the author eventually brought me around to understanding that Vidal is, if nothing else, by far the most widely read of any of the writers mentioned in this book, and therefore probably the most influential purveyor of a non-standard interpretation of American history. Fair enough. Following the survey of American history described above, Riggenbach also gave me a new respect for something I'd always assumed was leftist propaganda, Howard Zinn's ...Read more ›
He introduces the key historians less-read by government school students. These are names which are rarely referenced by the "court historians", that is, court facilitators of myth as history. Charles Beard, Harry Elmer Barnes, William Appleman Williams, Gore Vidal, James J. Martin, Murray Rothbard, Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, Thomas DiLorenzo and Tom Woods are among the highlighted revisionists. All took the supposedly neutral version of events, examined the questions begging to be asked by the evidence, offered their syntheses, and challenged the popularly accepted conclusions.
The Civil War, WWI, WWII, and the Cold War get significant attention. And, when Riggenbach finishes with these subjects, including great notes, history teachers around the country ought to prepare for a new set of questions from the newly aware. Things didn't necessarily turn out for the best. American Exceptionalism takes a deserved hit in Riggenbach's exegesis.
Also, a never mentioned but obvious extension of this work is journalism, history's first draft. The incentives are perverse in that business: they reward mostly state favored opinions. Jefferson's hoped-for vigilant "newspapers", as well as TV and internet sources, require close scrutiny in one's search for truth. Can anyone imagine the likes of a David Gregory launching a truth-seeking missile at a power player of today`s misnamed "left"? Well, as is also the case for most historians, if a journalist pursued anti-state truth as a goal, s/he would put at great risk a potentially lucrative career.Read more ›
Time passed and the more I read, with the help of Amazon recommendations, I became an out and out revisionist. Now for the surprise. I didn't know I had anything in common with the likes of Zinn and the red diaper baby Eric Foner. Those lefties aren't buying a lot of this court historian stuff either. Maybe there are a lot of us and maybe we are coming from all political angles.
My purchase of the book was to see what Riggenbach had for a historiography. I got more than I expected. He brilliantly follows the unfolding of American revisionists over the last 100 plus years. High points in the book include the ten pages on guidelines for American history books for high school students, e.g. don't show women riding in covered wagons with men walking and show women as construction workers and men as nurses. Yeah, this stuff is hilarious. These ten pages are worth the price of the book. On a more academic level his discussion of John Dos Passos evolution to revisionism is excellent as is his admission that no historian is really without any bias. Heck, I'm a Germanophile and politically conservative.
That leads to a couple of criticisms. Riggenbach, as some other reviewers have noted, becomes confusing when he starts labeling the different revisionist schools of thought and then applying labels to historical figures. This gets him to calling TR a conservative and Barry Goldwater a liberal.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This puts historians in their proper place and shows history in its proper prospective. I found it very good and did a little checking on the contents to see how others told the... Read morePublished 10 months ago by JAMES CRANE
Very much enjoying various perspectives in relearning US History. It is just not what we think it is, what people automatically believe and never cut/dried. Read morePublished 10 months ago by David
Why American History Is Not What They Say Jeff Riggenbach
This book goes about putting a different spin on what we learned in school and destroys some myths about our... Read more
Overall, a quality work that I would recommend to readers interested in history. On the books good points, the content and philosophical context are tremendous. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Gravity's Gone
Read at times like a critical review of Gore Vidal's career. Why not Michener while you are at it? (That is sarcasm.)Published 14 months ago by michael k
This is a fantastic work that clarifies some factors surrounding history as it's been taught (largely fallaciously) in American schools, and as its been revised by numerous... Read morePublished 15 months ago by S. Deciantis
Republican or democrat about time America wakes up
our government is not living up to it's stated role
it's a tool of the powerful and influences history to provide cover... Read more
Great book. I have read three volumes so far -- I hope there are more. They are written from a Libertarian perspective which I am not. Read morePublished 22 months ago by James M. Nolan