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American History Text (high school) for Once-per-week Co-op


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I haven't searched threads yet, and I will, but I'm in a hurry to get ideas.  We need an American history text book from which to assign weekly readings and possibly get discussion questions.  Cheap is good.  Because retired public school texts can often be gotten inexpensively on Amazon, we're considering this one:  America: Pathways to the Present.  Has anyone used this?  I'm curious if it is well written and if it has much of a slant to it ---- liberal or conservative.  

 

We'd like something with as little slant as possible, but know there will be some slant to everything.  

 

Any other favorites that would make a good spine for our students (9th - 12th). 

 

I'm late getting to this curriculum selection and need all the fast insight I can get!!!

Lisa

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Between the two texts you mentioned, the secular text America: Pathways to the Present is more on the liberal side, particularly with more recent editions.  The 2003 edition had chapters at the end offering up both sides of a number of issues, but they were removed from later editions.  The text is enormous and heavy. 

 

The BJU text is more conservative and presents a Providential view of US history.  The smaller size of the book makes it much easier to handle and the writing style makes it easier to read. 

 

Everything else I know of has a strong slant one way or the other - A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn is liberal, A Patriot's History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen is conservative.  You probably don't have time to consider using both, but a comparison between them might be interesting. 

 

ETA:  If slant is really the most important issue, the America: Pathways to the Present book will be the one with the least in-your-face slant.  However, it's also the one that is least readable, IMHO.  It reads like a textbook, while the way the others are written makes them more readable, and therefore more interesting. 

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The Patriot book was recommended on the Homeschool Lounge when I asked the same question, so i just ordered a copy.  I ordered a copy of the Pathway book too.  I have the BJUP book at my house (2nd ed).  Maybe I'll make it a complete set and order the People's History as well!!!  I like having the books in my hands to look at.  This decision will matter for the 40+ students in the class --- and the future students when we rotate back through this selection in four years.  (All our high school students take history together -- same hour, same teacher, same book.)

 

If we can get them cheap enough, I'm open to having two texts per student --- to pick the best section for the particular even, AND like you said, to do some comparison.  CHEAP is the key to the two-book-per-kid possibility.  

 

Any other thoughts!  You are VERY helpful!

 

Lisa

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Okay, I couldn't help myself; I ordered the Zinn book too. 

 

If it were your class, rate the books as YOU would choose them ----- 1st being your most likely to use --- and 4th being your least likely to use.  I'm assuming you are like me, a conservative Christian that wants the truth about what happened in history.  If I'm wrong in that assumption, will you correct me.  

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Okay, I couldn't help myself; I ordered the Zinn book too. 

 

If it were your class, rate the books as YOU would choose them ----- 1st being your most likely to use --- and 4th being your least likely to use.  I'm assuming you are like me, a conservative Christian that wants the truth about what happened in history.  If I'm wrong in that assumption, will you correct me.  

 

 

You'll have to decide yourself about Zinn, but his book isn't really a textbook.

 

As a matter of record, I am in favor of footnotes, they tell us where the author's facts and ideas come from. Unfortunately most true text books do not use footnotes. 

 

In Zinn's case I disliked his book and didn't finish it. He makes a patronizing statement in his introduction about protecting us poor little neophytes from footnotes as his reason not to have them (although he does use a weird end note system with no marks in the text to indicate what things he tells us are substantiated). Then in the first chapter on Columbus, I kept thinking, where'd he get that from, I'd turn to the back and there would be NOTHING. After several of these moments, I gave up. 

 

I have not read the Patriot's book.

 

I did read Paul Johnson's History of the American People. He is definitely on the conservative side, although as a Brit is not guided by US ideas on conservatism. He uses footnotes.  Johnson has distinct opinions (does not like Jefferson one tiny bit for instance) and includes some pretty funny opinions/thoughts they aren't dominate but I do still remember them almost 15 years after first reading his book. 

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Regentrude's thread just reminded me of William Bennett's books, America: The Last Best Hope, vol. I, II, and III (or original title for #3 A Century Turns).  They read like a book, like the People's History and Patriot's History, and are conservative.  They are common enough and not textbooks, so most students would be able to get all three used with shipping for less than $20; they might even be able to check them out of the library.  I don't remember if he uses footnotes or not.

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It's great you are considering multiple options instead of just going with whatever someone recommended to you.  Going through multiple texts to compare treatment of important topics will probably make the decision for you, but since you asked what we thought, here's my $.02:

 

I've come to appreciate using books that are comfortable to carry around, so I would choose against the Pathways book based on size alone.  If you like it, though, it might be worth seeing a newer edition just to compare.  I didn't care for the Zinn book at all, but it's used in the public schools here.  I liked the Patriot's History better.  Bennett's books also used in schools and he has a website with resource materials, although some of it is by subscription.  http://www.roadmaptolastbesthope.com/ I think both BJU's history book and Bennett's books would be easier for students who may not be as advanced in their reading skills, which might be important in a co-op setting. I tried the Johnson book Candid suggested, and I couldn't get into it.  Huge book, dry text. 

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I read Johnson's book and loved it. I didn't find it dry at all. I think it's more suitable for upper high school or college level though. Ds (college junior, history major) is using Patriot's to teach a co-op this year. It's more suitable for high school level than Johnson's and can be bought very cheaply used on Amazon. It was chosen for the co-op by one of ds's history professors. I've used it before and will be using it with my 10th and 11th graders here at home this year.

 

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I was just looking at The American Pageant (by Kennedy, Cohen, and Bailey) on Amazon! Wow! It is expensive! I didn't look too much at the used, but at a glance, they were high too. Is it amazing!

 

It's widely used for college and AP classes. Those students are buying their books now for August class starts or summer assignments. I've bought used copies of older editions for under $10. The price should go back down, though maybe not in time for you.
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I was just looking at The American Pageant (by Kennedy, Cohen, and Bailey) on Amazon! Wow! It is expensive!  I didn't look too much at the used, but at a glance, they were high too.  Is it amazing!

 

LOL, I agree!  I used some textbook comparison website, and I found a used copy (of the year I needed) for I think $40.  But everywhere else even used was around $90!  Sebastian is right though--a lot of kids are looking *right now* to buy their books for their classes.  I found the same thing last year when I was looking for used Campbells Biology books.  I bought 2 used really cheaply in April--but when I was trying to find tests for the other kids in my class in July/August, I couldn't find one easily for less than $30 or $40!  But by December, prices had plummeted again.

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Sometimes college texts are cheaper if you buy them in two volumes instead of one.  Check the used prices for The American Pageant vol. I and II from the same year to see if you can find a better price, even with double shipping.  I expect if you go back to 2006 or 2007 you would be able to get both for around $20 including shipping.

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I was just looking at The American Pageant (by Kennedy, Cohen, and Bailey) on Amazon! Wow! It is expensive! I didn't look too much at the used, but at a glance, they were high too. Is it amazing!

 

It's a real textbook they are usually much more expensive than books written by individuals. Why? I don't know.

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Lisa, I don't know what reading level you're wanting.  Patriot is pretty challenging.  I got it to use with my dd this coming year.  I've got Bennett, but he seems to go into more detail in a way that isn't what I want right now.  If you look at the BJU though, make sure you take a gander at their NEW edition.  Some of it is DRAMATICALLY different.  I have a really antique (maybe 1st?) edition and a 3rd edition in my house right now, but I've been comparing them to the online samples of the brand new 4th edition from BJU.  I'm CRAZY for the 4th edition.  You can get the etext version for $25 a head, which might be a nice pricepoint for your class.  It includes terrific discussion questions at the end of each chapter.  I know I was on Schweikhart's website, but I don't remember seeing a lot in that vein.  I must have missed it.  BJU gives you more to actually make it happen. 

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