Can you really understand American history without understanding economics? Thomas Woods doesn't think so, which is why he wrote this fabulous, pithy, provocative, and supremely enlightening book.
And guess what? His research, and his training in the Austrian tradition of economics, led him to disagree with the mainstream of American history in many surprising ways.
For example, the Indians didn't save the Pilgrims from starvation by teaching them to grow corn. Thomas Jefferson thought states’ rights—an idea reviled today—were even more important than the Constitution’s checks and balances. The "Wild" West was more peaceful and a lot safer than most modern cities. And the biggest scandal of the Clinton years didn't involve an intern in a blue dress.
In America, where history is riddled with misrepresentations, misunderstandings, and flat-out lies about the people and events that have shaped the nation, there’s the history you know and then there’s the truth.
In 33 Questions About American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask, Thomas E. Woods Jr., the New York Times bestselling author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, sets the record straight with a provocative look at the hidden truths about our nation’s history—the ones that have been buried because they’re too sensitive to discuss. Woods draws on real scholarship—as opposed to the myths, platitudes, and slogans so many other “history” books are based on—to ask and answer tough questions about American history, including:
You’d never know it from the history that’s been handed down to us, but the answer to all those questions is no.
Woods’s eye-opening exploration reveals how much has been whitewashed from the historical record, overlooked, and skewed beyond recognition. More informative than your last U.S. history class, 33 Questions About American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask will have you wondering just how much about your nation’s past you haven’t been told.
Will this book start arguments? Yes, indeed, but such arguments are long overdue. So much of Woods book is answer to the claims that are merely taken for granted in classroom across America, and for many decades.
At last, there is fun-to-read, one-stop answer to all the main ones, a book designed to get America thinking again.
Right from the start with an introductory story about H.L. Mencken, you can see what Professor Woods is planning. He is taking you on a tour of American history but with the insistence that you keep your eyes open and see the sights for yourself, rather than sitting back and reading a standard "travel brochure". An excellent book for anyone wanting to know facts rather than "glossy feel good" stories. I highly recommend this book
Okay, what I've read is the trade paperback version - at just under 300 pages, it's not going to be anyone's idea of a complete history. What it is, however, is a refutation of 33 errors that are commonly taught and/or believed about USAian History. Each chapter covers one question, and answers it clearly, concisely, and authoritatively, with a goodly number of end notes. Important to me before buying was a list of the questions covered, so I'll provide one here:
1 - Did the Founding Fathers support immigration?
2 - Did Martin Luther King Jr. oppose affirmative action?
3 - Were the American Indians really environmentalists?
4 - Were States' Rights just code words for slavery and oppression?
5- What was "the biggest unknown scandal of the Clinton years"?
6 - How wild was the "Wild West"?
7 - How antiwar have American liberals really been over the years?
8 - Did the Iroquois Indians influence the United States Constitution?
9 - Did desegregation of schools significantly narrow the black-white educational achievement gap?
10 - Was the Civil War all about slavery, or was something else at stake as well?
11 - Can the president, on his own authority, send troops anywhere in the world he wants?
12 - Is it true that during World War II "Americans never had it so good"?
13 - How does Social Security really work?
14 - Was George Washington Carver really one of America's greatest scientific geniuses?
15 - Was the U.S. Constitution meant to be a "living, breathing" document that changes with the times?
16 - Did the pilgrims flourish in America thanks to Indian agricultural wisdom?
17 - Who is most responsible for the "Imperial Presidency"?
18 - Is discrimination to blame for racial differences in income and job placement?
19 - Where did Thomas Jefferson's radical States' Rights ideas come from?
20 - What really happened in the Whiskey Rebellion, and why will neither your textbook nor George Washington tell you?
21 - What made American wages rise? (Hint: it wasn't unions or the government.)
22 - Did capitalism cause the Great Depression?
23 - Did Herbert Hoover sit back and do nothing during the Great Depression?
24 - Did Franklin Roosevent's New Deal lift the United States out of the Depression?
25 - Does the Constitution's commerce clause really grant the federal government the power to regulate all gainful activity?
26 - Does the Constitution authorize the federal government to do whatever it thinks will provide for the "general welfare" of Americans?
27 - Does the Constitution really contain an "elastic clause" that tives the federal government additional unspecified powers?
28 - Did the Founding Fathers believe juries could refuse to enforce unjust laws?
29 - What do foreign aid programs have to show for themselves?
30 - Did labor unions make Americans more free?
31 - Should Americans care about historians' rankings of the presidents?
32 - Who was S. B. Fuller?
33 - Did Bill Clinton really stop a genocide in Kosovo?
Not all questions are exactly history, and there are other questions I'd have liked to see instead of some of the more obvious ones here - but Mr. Woods included some I'd have never thought to ask, and answers these questions concisely and convincingly. I recommend this highly, both as a starting point for looking at history's mis-taught lessons, and for those who have already done some exploration.
Before I comment on this excellent book, I feel compelled to tell a story that has some bearing on my own perception of how American history was taught when I was in the public school system.
I was in middle school in the mid sixties in a small town in North Alabama. It was a time when the Federal Government was forcing public school systems to integrate. Like slavery of the mid 1800’s, segregated schools were not economically viable and would have eventually run the course of any unsustainable economic system. But forced integration was a popular topic for the “progressives” (This word is a misnomer in my view. It should be “regressive”) in this period of our history.
My local school system’s approach was to integrate slowly. The first black student in our Junior High (Middle) School was a bright girl who had excelled in the black local school. I vividly recall her first day in my American History class. The teacher, who had coincidentally taught my father a generation before, asked her to read the title of our textbook. Slowly, but distinctly, she read; “America: Land of Freedom and Opportunity”.
The rest of the year, as with all the other civics classed that I took during my tenure in the public school system, I learned the politically correct version of American history.
Then I became older, and noticed that the way America works today is not quite what I learned in school. While we still have freedom and opportunity, these virtues seem to be severely restricted and regulated. Our country is nothing like what I had learned about. America was no longer the pure constitutional republic that I had been taught about in our public school system.
I wanted to know why.
All of my questions are being answered by www mises.org and authors like Tom Woods. "33 Questions" is the second book I’ve read by Mr. Woods. I’ve also seen, via the Internet, several of his lectures. He has a gift for pealing back the layers of fabrication to get to the meat of the matter. The subtle irony’s and humor in his writing are delightful.
Thank you Mr. Woods. I’ll be sharing this title with many others who share my curiosity of the traditional views on the story of our county.
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