Dedicated to all American history teachers
who teach against their textbooks
Introduction: Something Has Gone Very Wrong
1 • Handicapped by History; The Process of Hero-making 9
2 * 1493: The True Importance of Christopher Columbus 29
3 • The Truth about the First Thanksgiving 67
4 • Red Eyes 91
5 • "Gone with the Wind":
The Invisibility of Racism in American History Textbooks 131 6 • John Brown and Abraham Lincoln:
The Invisibility of Anti-racism in American History Textbooks 165 7 • The Land of Opportunity 195
8 • Watching Big Brother:
What Textbooks Teach about the Federal Government 209
9 • Down the Memory Hole: The Disappearance of the Recent Past 2 33 10 • Progress Is Our Most Important Product 249
11 * Why Is History Taught Like This? 2 65
12 • What Is the Result of Teaching History Like This? 293 Afterword: The Future Lies Ahead—and What to Do about Them 307 Notes 313
The people listed below, in alphabetical order, talked with me, commented on chapters, suggested sources, corrected my mistakes, or provided other moral or material aid. I thank them very much. They are: Ken Ames, Charles Arnaude, Stephen Aron, Jose Barreiro, Carol Berkin, Sanford Berman, Robert Bieder, Bill Bigelow, Michael Blakey, James Baker, Linda Brew, Tim Brookes, Josh Brown, Lonnie Bunch, Vernon Burton, Claire Cuddy, Richard N. Current, Pete Daniel, Kevin Dann, Martha Day, Margo Del Vecchio, Susan Dixon, Ariel Dorfman, Mary Dyer, Shirley Engel, Bill Evans, John Fadden, Patrick Ferguson, Paul Finkelman, Frances FitzGerald, William Fitzhugh, John Franklin, Michael Frisch, Mel Gabler, James Gardiner, John Garraty, Elise Guyette, Mary E. Haas, Patrick Hagopian, William Haviland, Gordon Henderson, Richard Hill, Mark Hilgendorf, Mark Hirsch, Dean Hoge, Jo Hoge, Jeanne Houck, Frederick Hoxie, David Hutchinson, Carolyn Jackson, Clifton H. Johnson, Elizabeth Judge, Stuart Kaufman, David Kelley, Roger Kennedy, Paul Kleppner, J. Morgan Kousser, Gary Kulik, Jill Laramie, Ken Lawrence, Mary Lehman, Steve Lewin, Caret Livermore, Lucy Loewen, Nick Loewen, Barbara M. Loste, Mark Lytle, John Marciano, J. Dan Marshall, Juan Mauro, Edith Mayo, James McPherson, Dennis Meadows, Donella Meadows, Dennis Medina, Betty Meggars, Milton Meltzer, Deborah Menkart, Donna Morgenstern, Nanepashemet, Janet Noble, Jeff Nygaard, Jim O'Brien, Roger Norland, Wardell Payne, Mark Pendergrast, Larry Pizer, Bernice Reagan, Ellen Reeves, Joe Reidy Roy Rozensweig, Harry Rubenstein, Faith Davis Ruffins, John Salter, John Anthony Scott, Saul Schniderman, Barry Schwartz, Louis Segal, Ruth Selig, Betty Sharpe, Brian Sherman, David Shiman, Beatrice Siegel, Barabara Clark Smith, Luther Spoehr, Jerold Starr, Mark Stoler, Bill Sturtevant, Lonn Taylor, Linda Tucker, Harriet Tyson, Ivan von Sertima, Herman Viola, Virgil J. Vogel, Debbie Warner, Barbara Woods, Nancy Wright, and John Yewell.
Three institutions helped materially. The Smithsonian Institution awarded me two senior postdoctoral fellowships. Members of its staff provided lively
intellectual stimulation, as did my fellow fellows at the National Museum of American History. Interns at the Smithsonian from the University of Michigan, Johns Hopkins, and especially Portland State University chased down errant facts. Second, the flexible University of Vermont allowed me to go on leave to work on this book, including a sabbatical leave in 1993. Finally, The New Press, Andre Schiffrin, and especially my editor, Diane Wachtell, provided consistent encouragement and intelligent criticism.
It would be better not to know so many things than to know so many things that
are not so.
American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about It.
Concealment of the historical truth is a crime against the people. —Gen....
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