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I realize that most history textbooks are written with a slant of nationalism towards whatever country the book is published in.

 

(I read this really awesome book that went through snippets of history books from other countries detailing America's history...that was eye opening! Wish I could think of the name..but I digress...)

 

Anyway, I am looking for a U.S. History book (age 10-adult is fine) that is a bit less biased and more "just the facts, ma'am". I would prefer a more secular U.S. History, but can deal with Christian content if it isn't overmuch.

 

I liked the format of Hakims History of US and like it to a point, just not sure I want to pay the money for what I feel is a bit too biased. Her introduction seems really slanted to a very nationalistic point. Is the whole book like that? Could anyone tell me?

 

Am I looking for a needle in a haystack? Probably. What do you use for US History?

 

Thanks,

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Hakim is a bit liberal in slant. A public school textbook would be pretty neutral. Story of the USA from EPS is very "just the facts ma'am." I got it for my now-11yo when he complained that Hakim told him way more than he needed to ever know.

 

I think at one point I must have owned every US history available to homeschoolers. I really had a heck of a time finding one I liked. I finally settled on A Young People's History of the US by Howard Zinn. I like Hakim, but it is ten books. Zinn's is just two. I don't mind the political slant. I'd rather have an interesting book, a book we can argue with, than a list of historical facts in paragraph form.

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Thank you so much for pointing me in Zinn's direction. I read a review that made me feel this was a bit more of what I was looking for:

 

"Professor Zinn writes with an enthusiasm rarely encountered in the leaden prose of academic history, and his text is studded with telling quotations from labor leaders, war resisters and fugitive slaves. There are vivid descriptions of events that are usually ignored."-Eric Foner, The New York Times Book Review

 

Howard Zinn's first book for young adults is a retelling of US history from the viewpoints of slaves, workers, immigrants, women, and Native Americans with color images, a glossary, and primary sources. Volume one begins with a look at Christopher Columbus' arrival through the eyes of the Arawak Indians and leads the reader through the strikes and rebellions of the industrial age.

 

While I don't want to be overly negative in our view of the U.S. I tire of History books that give the idea that the settling of America was a beautiful, noble endeavor with few casualties. I want the nitty gritty. And this seems like it would deliver.

 

Thanks again for your input! (And a less expensive input at that!)

 

P.S. Oh, I just noticed on my Amazon Wish List (rather large) that Zinn wrote another book I was interested in "A People's History of the United States: 1492 to the Present".

Edited by Maria/ME
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Just today, I was listening to SWB's cd, and she actually recommends that you intentionally avoid 'non-biased' textbooks in favor of living books that have more of an explicit agenda (using a history ency as a jumping off point).

 

Preferably, you are reading from more than one viewpoint, especially for older children. She said you can recognize living books because they have an author or two listed beneath the title, not a dozen hidden in the appendix or a list of committee members!

 

Keep in mind that I'm working from memory, and paraphrasing the heck out of it, but part of the point was that bias cannot be completely eradicated even if the author tries. Better to recognize and take into account any potential agenda rather than deal with hidden bias or lifeless writing.

 

The cd is based on the WTM book, so the same info is probably there as well. ((but fyi, the cd is on sale right now!))

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I do understand that bias can NOT be avoided. And that we wouldn't necessarily want to avoid it. It makes for healthy discussion. My dd is 10, and as an intro to American History (formal intro that is...) I would prefer not to have a "our country can do no wrong and even if we do make mistakes we mean well" attitude like I've seen some books give. Not for now. Later, after the intro to US History, then she can read whatever she wants and I have no problem giving her books that are more biased.

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There are no non-biased history books. I have found that some history books that attempt to be non-biased are often insufferably dry.

 

If you're looking for a overview providing important facts (dates, people, places, occurrences) that one should know, there are what I like to call "cliff notes"-style books. These can either be used as the basis for filling in timelines, creating notecards of facts to memorize, or as jumping-off points for further study. Some books like this include Short Lessons in US History, Artner's Reader's Guide to American History, and Everything You Need to Know About American History Homework. You can also extract "facts to know" from E.D Hirsch's books.

 

But I think you need to dig deeper to bring history to life. These summary-style history books are good starting points and often point you towards additional reading.

 

As for Howard Zinn, please bear in mind that his work, like that of all good historians, is biased as well. I don't think you can write a "living history book" unless you are passionate about the subject, which typically includes having an opinion and a point of view.

 

The portion of the Eric Foner review quoted in an earlier post is incomplete. Here is some more information from Wikipedia:

 

 

When
A People's History of the United States
was first published in 1980, the
reviewer,
historian
, described the book as filled with telling quotations and vivid descriptions of usually ignored events, and said that "Zinn writes with an enthusiasm rarely encountered in the leaden prose of academic history." However, referring to Zinn's focus on "the distinctive experience of blacks, women, Indians, workers and other neglected groups," Foner said, "The portrayal of these anonymous Americans is strangely circumscribed. Blacks, Indians, women and laborers appear either as rebels or as victims. Less dramatic but more typical lives — people struggling to survive with dignity in difficult circumstances — receive little attention", adding, "
A People's History
reflects a deeply pessimistic vision of the American experience."

Both Foner and Zinn are well-known leftist historians. This is not to detract from their scholarship; rather it is to point out that they, too, have an agenda.

 

Here's another perspective on the book, also from Wikipedia's article on Zinn:

 

 

In a 2004 article in Dissent critiquing the 5th edition of
A People's History of the United States,
history professor
argued that Zinn's book is too focused on
, and wrongly attributes sinister motives to the American political elite. He also characterized the book as an overly simplistic narrative of elite villains and oppressed people, with no attempt to understand historical actors in the context of the time in which they lived. Kazin writes, "The ironic effect of such portraits of rulers is to rob 'the people' of cultural richness and variety, characteristics that might gain the respect and not just the sympathy of contemporary readers. For Zinn, ordinary Americans seem to live only to fight the rich and haughty and, inevitably, to be fooled by them."
Kazin argues further that
A People's History
fails to explain why the American political-economic model continues to attract millions of minorities, women, workers, and immigrants, or why the socialist and radical political movements Zinn favors have failed to gain widespread support among the American public.

I'm not saying you shouldn't read these books. But please don't be fooled into thinking the author has "no agenda".

 

In my view, one of the many benefits of living in a democracy is the freedom to read and discuss books written from a number of different perspectives. I would recommend doing just that.

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Thanks again to all...and I probably didn't make myself terribly clear in the beginning. I KNOW that everyone has an agenda...and that if a historian tries NOT to be biased, then he ends up being rather dry.

 

I want to avoid the biases that I grew up with in my ps history books. That is to say "America, right or wrong, we are great, God put us here for a purpose" (see Peter Marshall) That is stating a bit more strongly how I feel, and what I want to avoid. I realize that Zinn seems to have his own views, and perhaps, as was stated in the review plimsoll quoted, doesn't give the viewpoint of the "typical" minority in history. But, then, who does? I doubt Peter Marshall does either. I could be wrong. At any rate, as my daughter gets older we will be reading the diaries, and documents of the history of America so we can get a view of the "typical" minority in history. Although, "typically" the average person didn't have a lot of time to leave their history behind..... but I digress.

 

Maybe what we really need to to is read both Zinn and Hakim or Marshall for a more "well rounded" view of history. But I am pretty sure that purely by living in our country day to day, year to year, listening to the news, listening to our politicians etc, that my daughter is going to "get" that our country is pretty darn great without the help of a history book. I would like the side of the story that ISNT always told day to day, for our introduction to American History.

 

Sorry I didn't make that more clear in the outset...thus avoiding some confusion as to what I was looking for!

 

Thanks again for all the input and suggestions!

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What about using some of the history books by Critical Thinking Press? I have only read the descriptions (no first-hand experience) but plan to explore these when my dc are a bit older. (They're listed for grades 6-12.)

 

http://www.criticalthinking.com/searchByNeed.do?categories=bs&subjects=h&code2=p&catalog3=p&gradeLevel=99&code=p&catalog2=p&x=26&y=11

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I'm not sure how much depth you're looking for. We're in our 4th (and hopefully final for this pass) year of studying US history - 2nd - 5th grade - and have used a variety of non-fiction texts chronologically as a sort of spine.

 

A series I had looked at and really liked when we started this, but are only now beginning to use because it's really aimed at a middle-school audience, is The Drama of Ameican History series by Christopher and James Collier. It has 19 roughly chronological volumes, although there is some overlap, as they can also be used to stand alone if you just want to read about that event/period of time, and they may review stuff in other volumes to put things in their proper historical context. When we do another round of this (after doing World History for 3 years), it's probably what I'll use for a spine for my younger dd.

 

What we used most for grammar stage was the Cornerstones of Freedom series. These are pretty good for that age, and in spite of the series title, not just rah-rah America, but I think present a fairly balanced view. We also read lots of historical fiction, and I try to find materials to present points of view from both sides of an issue.

 

We've also read some other fabulous non-fiction books on different social justice issues - some of our recent favorites (can you tell which time period we're at? :tongue_smilie:):

 

With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman's Right to Vote

By Bausum, Ann

Growing Up in Coal Country

By Bartoletti, Susan

Kids at Work, Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor

By Freedman, Russell

Shutting Out the Sky (about turn-of-the-century immigrant tenements in NYC)

By Hopkinson, Deborah

Children of the Gold Rush (Klondike 1897)

By Murphy, Claire

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A series I had looked at and really liked when we started this, but are only now beginning to use because it's really aimed at a middle-school audience, is The Drama of Ameican History series by Christopher and James Collier. It has 19 roughly chronological volumes, although there is some overlap, as they can also be used to stand alone if you just want to read about that event/period of time, and they may review stuff in other volumes to put things in their proper historical context.

 

What we used most for grammar stage was the Cornerstones of Freedom series. These are pretty good for that age, and in spite of the series title, not just rah-rah America, but I think present a fairly balanced view. We also read lots of historical fiction, and I try to find materials to present points of view from both sides of an issue.

 

I did a quick check on Drama of American History. This intrigues me, particularly one of the reviews on Amazon:

 

I've seen so many "historical" books that have an editorial tilt to them. I am tired of hearing how "bad" or "good" people were long ago. Historians should not be in the business of judging the past by today's perspective; just "the facts" please. These brothers do a fabulous job of telling both sides of the story with enough details that most readers will learn something. It's a lovely departure from most of the children's literature that over-simplifies reality and creates one-dimentional perspectives of historical figures.

 

So I'll give them a more thorough going over and see if I can review some at a local library!

 

Meanwhile, I am very excited by the samples I see at Critical Thinking! I hadn't thought to look there, but I think we could use this in a few years. One sample gave two historians views on the same subject and then asked the student to think about the viewpoints. Another sample had diaries and notes from eyewitnesses. Excellently done! I'm excited about trying those out in the future!

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Meanwhile, I am very excited by the samples I see at Critical Thinking! I hadn't thought to look there, but I think we could use this in a few years.

 

My current nebulous plan for pass #2 US History (I'm thinking over 2yrs, kids will be 9-10th grade) is to read Zinn (the one for adults), the Paul Johnson referenced by someone else, and the Critical Thinking books.

 

History is so much fun, I tend to get sucked in - I am planning to finish the US History round this year, but we're only just getting to WWI and it's already almost halfway through the year. Eep! Good news is that the kids read so much more of it themselves...

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My son's s 9yo. Here's what's on our American History reading list for this year:

 

- Betsy Maestro books (below his reading level, but he'll enjoy them)

- D'Aulaire's biographies of famous Americans

- Genevieve Foster's books on American history

 

Mary Pope Osborne has written a number of biographies of famous Americans as well (my son read them last year and enjoyed them).

 

Schlessinger Media puts out a lot of short educational videos for students of various ages. My son has enjoyed watching their videos on American history as well as on other topics.

 

For older students, you may want to look into A Brief History of the United States, by Franklin Escher, Jr. It's fairly short and well-written.

 

My thanks to those who mentioned the Collier books (Drama of American History series) -- they look interesting and we may try them.

 

My thanks also to Maria/ME for starting the thread. History's a vast topic and unlike math, e.g., where a single main text can often suffice, I think the study of history requires mixing a lot of different materials and sources. It's great to learn about what materials other people are using.

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But I am pretty sure that purely by living in our country day to day, year to year, listening to the news, listening to our politicians etc, that my daughter is going to "get" that our country is pretty darn great without the help of a history book.!

 

You must be watching different news broadcasts and hearing different politicians than I am :tongue_smilie:

 

One of the reasons why I'm homeschooling is to COUNTERACT all the negativity about our country that's so prevalent among elites. Now I'm not in favor of "rah-rah" blind patriotism, because America has not always lived up to our ideals. I don't gloss over the problems of our past or present. But I don't want to dwell on them either.

 

That's why I'd be much more likely to use A Patriot's History of the U.S. by Larry Shweikart than the overly negative politically correct series by Howard Zinn or Joy Hakim.

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You must be watching different news broadcasts and hearing different politicians than I am :tongue_smilie:

 

I had to laugh at reading this because I was thinking "yes, I must be..."

 

I think it's interesting that our directions in homeschooling are all about our own life experiences as parents. Our own parents, our upbringing, our schooling, the very region of the U.S. that we live in defines our feelings and our wishes in schooling our children. That's the beauty of homeschooling. We can pick and choose the direction for our children, without someone (the state, usually) telling us what textbook to use. And we can pick and choose to their interest level, too. And hopefully they will go on and do the same with their children!

 

One of the reasons why I'm homeschooling is to COUNTERACT all the negativity about our country that's so prevalent among elites. Now I'm not in favor of "rah-rah" blind patriotism, because America has not always lived up to our ideals. I don't gloss over the problems of our past or present. But I don't want to dwell on them either.

 

Well, like you pointed out maybe we are living in different areas??? :D Or, more likely, our take on what we hear is different (see above)...while I do hear negativity, I am more "affected" by the patriotism....which is why, although I appreciate so much your offering the link ,and there will be those reading this thread will be thrilled to have a new US History book to add to their collection, it doesn't look like it's for us! Our definition of "rah-rah" might be different (see below review from website)

 

"America's past is a bright and shining light," the authors state in their introduction. "America was, and is, the city on the hill, the fountain of hope, the beacon of liberty." Every teacher and parent who has sorted through the piles of American history textbooks published in the last 30 years will know what a rare occasion it is to find a textbook with authors bold enough to affirm the old-fashioned patriotic sentiments held dear by so many Americans. With praise for America's founders, the religious and moral principles upon which the country was built, and the free market that has facilitated American prosperity, Schweikart and Allen's book reads much like civics and history textbooks used to."

 

That having been said, the reason I appreciate this forum is that, as a whole, we are FULL of resources for each other. Do you know how long it would've taken me to find all the resources I've been given in just a few posts? Eons. And now I can cull through and research them quickly. Priceless. :w00t:

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  • 1 year later...
WinterPromise uses the Betsy Maestro "American Story" series for their first 3 units on American History. They're described here:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Betsy-Maestro/...ntt_dp_epwbk_0

 

There are a number of these, illustrated beautifully by Giulio Maestro, and not OOP. The only criticism I have heard of these was "critical of European settlement", so they portray the more modern swing of the pendulum, away from the antiquated bias shown in TCoO.

 

 

I have seen these, as well as some beautiful picture books by Cheryl Harness which would be perfect for 3rd - 6th grade. My older kids love picture books and these are particularly beautiful.

We read the John Adams one and the one on Paul Revere. Both were very lovely to look at. I read them in a fog, but they did not seem offensive or to include any nasty bits....I did not get to read the Thomas Jefferson book, but did look at the pictures...also lovely.

 

The Maestro books we read were on the Revolutionary war and the War of 1812. These were also beautifully illustrated and written simply but thoroughly.

 

~~Faithe

 

Faithe

 

.

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From Sea to Shining Sea: The Story of America

 

Catholic perspective. This book, also suggested in TOG, made a nice addition to our Dialectic studies. I think it may seem a little dry for for grammar students.

 

These are used in HOD Bigger which is described as not providential and acceptable for Catholics if one is not using the extension set:

 

First Book in American History by Edward Eggleston

 

Journeys in Time: A New Atlas of American History

 

Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans

 

I intend to use both these and the Betsy Maestro books.

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Understand, that a full view American history has some of the most problematic issues you will encounter. Also, when you study world history you see things in a different context. The American Revolution didn't happen in a bubble.

 

BUT, I understand some people wanting to give a brief overview of early American History. I would use literature selections, not a spine.

 

There are a couple of good activity books on the Inca and Maya by Arlette Braman

 

National Geographic book on the Inca

 

DK book on the Maya, Inca and Aztecs

 

You Wouldn't Want to Sail with Christopher Columbus

 

I will add to this list later, I have to run for now!

.
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These are used in HOD Bigger which is described as not providential and acceptable for Catholics if one is not using the extension set:

 

First Book in American History by Edward Eggleston

 

Journeys in Time: A New Atlas of American History

 

Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans

 

I intend to use both these and the Betsy Maestro books.

 

 

HOD also uses "The Wright Brothers and Their Sister" along with the aformentioned (and one of the Maestro books in the extension package) .

 

I have and like most of the Maestro books, If you books, Jean Fritz books, Childhood of Famous Americans, Picture Biographies by David Adler, Genevieve Foster books (haven't used these yet.) and H.A Guerber books (Story of the 13 Colonies and Story of the Great Republic).

 

After the TCOO discussion (which I don't own or use) ;) , I was curious about what other free (public domain) American History resources might be available and came across the following (DISCLAIMER: I have not read these and cannot comment on them being overly biased or other problems buy maybe someone else can):

 

Streams of History: The New World & The United States by Ellwood Kemp

 

American History Stories Vol 1-4 by Mara L. Pratt

 

Also M B Synge includes some of American History in his/her World History books.

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I was curious about what other free (public domain) American History resources might be available
Thank you. I have most of those you mentioned. Of course, the Eggleston books are available free as well.

 

More quotes: On another topic, I was just searching a trilogy of Newbery books on U.S. history called A History For Peter, by Gerald Johnson. Here's a quote from cajun.classical's blog:

 

Quote:

I also examined the spines that Sonlight recommends, The Story of the USA by Escher--which was the "less liberal book" mentioned in my last post. I read the entire Story of the US by Joy Hakim. This series too deserves its own in-depth review, so I'll limit my comments to this: the liberal, anti-Christian worldview in this series is so pervasive and so subtle that I cannot recommend the use of the series as a spine. Now, I have used parts of it, to teach my children about historiography, contrasting the conservative and liberal perspectives. But, and let me be quite clear here, the worldview is very very subtle, and because the books are engagingly written, they are all the more dangerous. I would never give this series to my child to read on his own! It would require a great deal of parental oversight. And at some point, I have to ask, Why put in all that effort to undo the perspective of the author? For a first run through Modern History, I think I would rather give my children my own perspective from the get-go.

So far, the story comes straight from cajun.classical, as there aren't many threads on this series. She described them as having a liberal slant (a la Hakim, though probably less so, since she eschewed Hakim but used the Johnson series), and a very pro-government slant, particularly the third volume. The thread that linked cajun.classical's blog is here, and she devoted three pages of blog posts to how she designed her kids' history studies that year. I have two of the three volumes...I'm thinking I'm missing the third one. They were up in my attic, remnants of my early teacher days, in which I bought every Newbery I saw. I'm planning to read through them soon, so I'll let you know what I find.
Edited by Lovedtodeath
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I love the idea of using Paul Johnson as High School history! I also stumbled on to Freedom Just Around the Corner: A New American History. I've read some reviews that it's less biased than other US texts... apparently his bias is "all Americans are hustlers." Not sure that's untrue! :) But I know nothing of this author. It's on my short-list to pre-read sometime in the next 4 years anyway.

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(I read this really awesome book that went through snippets of history books from other countries detailing America's history...that was eye opening! Wish I could think of the name..but I digress...)

The book is History Lessons: How Textbooks from Around the World Portray US History. It's a very interesting book, although I think the selections chosen were a bit bland, compared to what must have been available.

 

I also have History in the Making: An Absorbing Look at How American History Has Changed in the Telling Over the Last 200 Years, by the same author, and Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts, but I haven't read either of those yet (they're currently on loan to a teacher friend).

 

Jackie

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I just wanted to make it clear that many of the books I posted are for grammar stage, even though that is not what the OP asked for. I was just going off of the tag and trying to gather all of the suggestions into one place.

 

Accelerated Acheivement has a demo disk for $3 with their history being Public Domain texts meant to be read by the student. I haven't looked into it in depth, however... they could be problematic.

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I just wanted to make it clear that many of the books I posted are for grammar stage, even though that is not what the OP asked for. I was just going off of the tag and trying to gather all of the suggestions into one place.

 

Accelerated Acheivement has a demo disk for $3 with their history being Public Domain texts meant to be read by the student. I haven't looked into it in depth, however... they could be problematic.

 

Thank you for all the links, I have been struggling with coming up with a "spine" for the grammar stage, and this has given me so many recommendations that I feel much better about the whole process.

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I agree wholeheartedly! I think it's far better to encounter bias head on and deal with it than to ignore it and pretend it does not exist. Children will not be well prepared for college where they will be challenged in their viewpoints constantly if they have not looked at differing viewpoints prior to that time. I believe it is also helpful to look at how viewpoints have changed over time and that is just one reason I do not dismiss books written from the time period of the late nineteenth, early twentieth century. Their viewpoints reflect viewpoints held for much of recorded history. Look how we have changed. You can't do that without looking.....

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Hakim's History of US is graded for middle schoolers. Some here find it way too liberal. I use it, along with works that some find way too conservative, such as Foster. I try to run the gamut with history. I don't think you can pick up any one single program and go with only that and hope to avoid bias.....

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I think these two would juxtapose well against each other. However, I'd tend to use these for high school level work. Would they be good for a young middle schooler?

Regena, I so appreciate your participation in this thread! I can't tell which texts you are talking about because I am on linear mode. Could you help me out?

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The Maestro books make a nice juxtaposition against something like D'Aulaire or Foster (who has shorter works available in the used market such as Year of the Pilgrims: 1620, Year of the Horseless Carriage: 1801, etc.)
Thanks! My plan, LOL is for our next go around will be 9th /10th grade... 14 years old. So... more programs will probably be out, and I am probably wasting my time. lol Edited by Lovedtodeath
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I'm responding to sagira's post about using Johnson and Zinn. If you click on "display modes" (upper right) and then click on "threaded" mode, you can easily view how one post responds to another, then change back to whatever mode you normally like to use.....
Oh, thanks! I never could figure that out!:tongue_smilie:
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Hakim's History of US is graded for middle schoolers. Some here find it way too liberal. I use it, along with works that some find way too conservative, such as Foster. I try to run the gamut with history. I don't think you can pick up any one single program and go with only that and hope to avoid bias.....
:iagree:

 

The Maestro books make a nice juxtaposition against something like D'Aulaire or Foster (who has shorter works available in the used market such as Year of the Pilgrims: 1620, Year of the Horseless Carriage: 1801, etc.)
:iagree:

 

One historian we've loved to read in junior high/high school is Albert Marrin. He writes mainly about US war related happenings, but he also has some good bios available.

Thank you. I"ll be checking his work out!

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There are no non-biased history books. I have found that some history books that attempt to be non-biased are often insufferably dry.

 

If you're looking for a overview providing important facts (dates, people, places, occurrences) that one should know, there are what I like to call "cliff notes"-style books. These can either be used as the basis for filling in timelines, creating notecards of facts to memorize, or as jumping-off points for further study. Some books like this include Short Lessons in US History, Artner's Reader's Guide to American History, and Everything You Need to Know About American History Homework. You can also extract "facts to know" from E.D Hirsch's books.

 

But I think you need to dig deeper to bring history to life. These summary-style history books are good starting points and often point you towards additional reading.

 

As for Howard Zinn, please bear in mind that his work, like that of all good historians, is biased as well. I don't think you can write a "living history book" unless you are passionate about the subject, which typically includes having an opinion and a point of view.

 

The portion of the Eric Foner review quoted in an earlier post is incomplete. Here is some more information from Wikipedia:

 

 

When
A People's History of the United States
was first published in 1980, the
reviewer,
historian
, described the book as filled with telling quotations and vivid descriptions of usually ignored events, and said that "Zinn writes with an enthusiasm rarely encountered in the leaden prose of academic history." However, referring to Zinn's focus on "the distinctive experience of blacks, women, Indians, workers and other neglected groups," Foner said, "The portrayal of these anonymous Americans is strangely circumscribed. Blacks, Indians, women and laborers appear either as rebels or as victims. Less dramatic but more typical lives — people struggling to survive with dignity in difficult circumstances — receive little attention", adding, "
A People's History
reflects a deeply pessimistic vision of the American experience."

Both Foner and Zinn are well-known leftist historians. This is not to detract from their scholarship; rather it is to point out that they, too, have an agenda.

 

Here's another perspective on the book, also from Wikipedia's article on Zinn:

 

 

In a 2004 article in Dissent critiquing the 5th edition of
A People's History of the United States,
history professor
argued that Zinn's book is too focused on
, and wrongly attributes sinister motives to the American political elite. He also characterized the book as an overly simplistic narrative of elite villains and oppressed people, with no attempt to understand historical actors in the context of the time in which they lived. Kazin writes, "The ironic effect of such portraits of rulers is to rob 'the people' of cultural richness and variety, characteristics that might gain the respect and not just the sympathy of contemporary readers. For Zinn, ordinary Americans seem to live only to fight the rich and haughty and, inevitably, to be fooled by them."
Kazin argues further that
A People's History
fails to explain why the American political-economic model continues to attract millions of minorities, women, workers, and immigrants, or why the socialist and radical political movements Zinn favors have failed to gain widespread support among the American public.

I'm not saying you shouldn't read these books. But please don't be fooled into thinking the author has "no agenda".

 

In my view, one of the many benefits of living in a democracy is the freedom to read and discuss books written from a number of different perspectives. I would recommend doing just that.

 

Thanks.

 

I often hear Zinn come up in homeschooling circles as a reliable resource. It's good to get some perspective.

 

Appreciate all the review comments in particular.

:001_smile:

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History is a subject that often lacks objectivity and the predominant voice is that of the victor or the perspective of the author. Finding a book that is completely accurate about history......it simply does not exist. Some books are more biased than others and their representation of history is so distorted that it lacks any semblance to reality. Yet, from my perspective, that does not automatically nullify their value.

 

There are certain books that I have chosen not to use with my children and those are ones that completely whitewash Catholic history (and I am as Catholic as they come.) There are many other textbooks with completely biased passages that I do use. Why? B/c some are products of their time and it is important for children to understand that we cannot really learn about history simply from single perspectives or strictly through the prism of modern times.

 

Over the yrs on this forum I have repeatedly compared two approaches to history......one is linear which sees history as a sequence of chronological events; the other sees history as a large jigsaw puzzle where the entirety of understanding only makes sense when you see the historical event from the perspectives of all sides.

 

The passage posted above is offensive. However, it is also an excellent teaching opportunity. I see it as more useful in explaining how no matter where we are in times historically, those with opposing views/values are villified by those from the dominant culture than a passage that white-washed the history of the Mormons and typical American culture b/c the example above demonstrates what the Mormons faced in complete and obvious bias against them.

 

Studying the perspective you find offensive is often the only way to even make sense of the events historically. An example that my kids have just completed......understanding the German perspective during WWII. You cannot understand the history of WWII w/o understanding the mindset of the German people. Does that mean we accept or embrace their viewpoints? In no way. Yet, w/o studying it we only have our perspective, not a historically accurate one.

 

My kids get healthy doses of how Protestants view Catholicism and the bias is far worse than the example posted above. Again, why? B/c those perspectives are historically accurate to those that believe them regardless to whether or not the history itself resembles the actual history. It is only through confronting and understanding that perspective that they can truthfully form their own.

 

It is also only through understanding the offensive perspectives that you can hope to form minds that are educated in easily identifying bias and the appropriate response to that bias. Alternatively, you can end up with forming minds that view everything in terms of tolerance or a specific prism, but then don't know how to effectively deal with views that conflict/oppose their own.

.
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Just information to use or not use as you wish: Hakim's books are not at all a whitewashed, totally optimistic view of US History. There's plenty of narrative about the dispossession of the Native Americans, for instance, including actions taken at the presidential level; there's discussion of people who are anti-slavery in theory but who don't free their own slaves; there's an interesting discussion of the way that the entitled feeling of Manifest Destiny evolved. And that's just from volumes 4 and 5, which my daughter has just finished reading. The overall message I get is that she wants kids to understand the unique circumstances in which the US was formed -- and yes, that is presented as a generally "good" chance to give individuals a better life -- but also that our history was founded on and continues to be riddled with contradictions, conflicts, misjudgments, mistakes, even hypocrisy.

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