A slimmed-down version of Loewen’s (Sundown Towns, 2018, etc.) damning indictment of the way United States history is taught.
As in the adult edition, the author bases his argument on critical examinations of 18 high school textbooks published between 1974 and 2007. He sees clear tendencies to blandly hero-ify not only historical figures—such as Helen Keller, commonly presented in relation to her disabilities, not for her lifelong social and political radicalism—but also American culture and government, which are consistently portrayed as international forces for good despite centuries of invasion-based foreign policy. To freshen his material, the author slips in more recent statistics and general comments that newer textbooks seem to have filled in at least some of the more egregious gaps. More provocatively, he also flings down a gauntlet to young readers by not reproducing two of the five photos he discusses as iconic images of the war in Vietnam, arguing that they are still too edgy for some school districts. He also offers alternative narratives about the conflicts between European immigrants and Indigenous residents, slavery, racism, social class, and the ideal of “progress.” Overall, he presents a cogent argument for studying historical nuances. He argues that young people should not be deprived of hearing the incredible truth of American history in service to avoidance of controversy or blinkered, parochial nationalism.
An accessible, eye-opening invitation to look for hidden—and not-so-hidden—agendas in supposedly authoritative sources. (notes, index) (Nonfiction. 13-18)