US History

The movie Lincoln has inspired me to read the most popular textbooks on the US history because there were things in the film I didn’t know and found hard to understand. For example, when Blair says, “I’m a founder of this conservative anti-slavery party”, I find that hard to comprehend. I know, of course, that the Democrats were pro-slavery in the XIXth century but I don’t get that.

I will have a lot of time for non-work-related reading during my semi-sabbatical that starts in 6 days, so I have decided to read A History of the American People by Paul Johnson and A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. The two authors belong to opposing ideological camps, which will help me see competing points of view. I will tell you what I discover as a result of my readings.

13 comments on “US History

  1. Thanks for the book suggestion. I’m not familiar with Paul Johnson’s book but I’ll probably read it after I start reading the Amity Shlaes book “The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression.” I read parts of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” as a summer reading requirement for my AP US History class back in the 11th grade. From what I can remember, the two major political parties have gone through several party realignments throughout America’s history. Look up the New Deal Coalition if you also have time to do so. Maybe that could provide more insight.

  2. I love the Zinn book. In my opinion, it’s one of the best books about American history out there, Haven’t read the Johnson book though1

  3. I read them simultaneously for my history class my senior year of high school. I don’t remember much about Johnson, but Zinn’s style is very easy to read.

  4. Stone, untold history of US, is on bestseller lists now and covers 20th century. I have not read but have seen part of the video. He says USSR is responsible for repulsing Hitler and US in WWII really only helped England keep colonies, etc., so it is a book written for general audiences but that does not tell the usual patriotic story, it seems.

  5. Ron Takaki, esp. “A Different Mirror.”

    Takaki was the author and editor of more than 20 books, including “Iron Cages: Race and Culture in 19th Century America” (1979),”Strangers From a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans” (1989), “A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America” (1993) and “Double Victory: A Multicultural History of America in World War II” (2000).

  6. I’m glad to see that you’re ahead of the curve with reading non fiction books so you can relate to future students who will have a limited acquaintance with literature according to an article in the WP.

    “As states across the country implement broad changes in curriculum from kindergarten through high school, English teachers worry that they will have to replace the dog-eared novels they love with historical documents and nonfiction texts.

    The Common Core State Standards in English, which have been adopted in 46 states and the District, call for public schools to ramp up nonfiction so that by 12th grade students will be reading mostly “informational text” instead of fictional literature.

    Proponents of the new standards, including the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, say U.S. students have suffered from a diet of easy reading and lack the ability to digest complex nonfiction, including studies, reports and primary documents. That has left too many students unprepared for the rigors of college and demands of the workplace, experts say.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/common-core-state-standards-in-english-spark-war-over-words/2012/12/02/4a9701b0-38e1-11e2-8a97-363b0f9a0ab3_print.html

    By the way, did you know that Karl Marx wrote a letter to “Comrade Abe”. I wonder if ththat is in Howard Zinn’s book?

    • “The Common Core State Standards in English, which have been adopted in 46 states and the District, call for public schools to ramp up nonfiction so that by 12th grade students will be reading mostly “informational text” instead of fictional literature.”

      – I don’t want to believe this. No, no, no, this is not possible. I will think about it tomorrow.

      “Proponents of the new standards, including the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, say U.S. students have suffered from a diet of easy reading and lack the ability to digest complex nonfiction”

      – So reading novels and poetry is easy, eh? I welcome these fuckers to my classes to see how “easy” they are. Fucking losers. Fuck these fucktards from here to hell.

      “By the way, did you know that Karl Marx wrote a letter to “Comrade Abe”. ”

      – I had absolutely no idea. I now really want to read it.

  7. It’s hard to find information on the new Common Core State standards which are suppose to be in effect by 2014 but here’s a piece from an English newspaper.

    “A new school curriculum which will affect 46 out of 50 states will make it compulsory (in English arts) for at least 70 per cent of books studied to be non-fiction, in an effort to ready pupils for the workplace.

    Books such as JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird will be replaced by “informational texts” approved by the Common Core State Standards.

    Suggested non-fiction texts include Recommended Levels of Insulation by the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Invasive Plant Inventory, by California’s Invasive Plant Council.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/9729383/Catcher-in-the-Rye-dropped-from-US-school-curriculum.html

    Also:

    “When I asked Gene Wilhoit, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers–which, along with the National Governors Association, created the Common Core–he told me that CEOs and university professors championed the shift to nonfiction.”

    http://pandawhale.com/post/10016/how-i-replaced-shakespeare-joel-stein-of-time-magazine-on-common-core-state-standards

    I can guess that you weren’t one of those professors and wonder about their field of interest.

    • Oh my God!! This is terrifying and corrosive to literary study and intellectual thought! This will go in to effect in 2014??? This is going to be destructive to literary study at the college level eventually and is going to destroy high school education in the short term. I am beside myself with anger and fear! Why aren’t the teacher’s unions striking???!!!

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