The Distortion of America

Overview

This book is a methodological primer on how historians gather evidence, presume reliability of witnesses, and develop forms of verification in the conduct of analysis and research. It is an introduction to the study of history and an examination of specific instances in which ideology has distorted the study of American history.

Oscar Handlin is best known as America’s leading historian of ethnicity and the immigrant experience in the new nation. When it was first published in ...

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Overview

This book is a methodological primer on how historians gather evidence, presume reliability of witnesses, and develop forms of verification in the conduct of analysis and research. It is an introduction to the study of history and an examination of specific instances in which ideology has distorted the study of American history.

Oscar Handlin is best known as America’s leading historian of ethnicity and the immigrant experience in the new nation. When it was first published in 1961, The Distortion of America was perhaps the first critique of anti-Americanism as an ideological expression of Marxism-Leninism in schools of higher learning. For the second edition, originally published in the 1990s, Handlin added chapters on forces affecting economic strength in the US; race and distortions of America; Yugoslavian troubles created by class divisions; and the relevance to China of democracy in the United States. The final chapter is a memorable essay on how Arthur Koestler’s career exemplifies the difficulties of the ex-communist in an unsympathetic environment.

Now available in paperback for the first time, this volume offers a new generation of historians and students an opportunity to acquaint themselves with one of the premier historians of the twentieth century.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Expanded edition of historian Handlin's 1961 critique of anti- Americanism as an ideological expression of Marxism-Leninism in academia. Handlin's smugness (e.g. "...innate reticence kept me quiet unless I knew about what I spoke.") and his fundamental project of abusing history to settle intellectual and political scores undermines whatever explanatory power his analysis might otherwise have had. Six additional chapters supplement those gathered in the earlier collection. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher
“This volume is no less a personal testament than an effort to instruct . . . revealing the knowledge, insight, and conviction that one would expect of the author.” —Norman A. Graebner, The Journal of American History
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316343169
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
  • Publication date: 8/28/1981

Meet the Author

Oscar Handlin (1915–2011) was director of the Center for the History of Liberty in America at Harvard University. He is the author of numerous works that have become classics.

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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Transaction Edition
Preface
1 From Dream to Nightmare 1
2 One World 20
3 The Failure of Communism - and What It Meant 40
4 The Gullibility of the Neutrals 59
5 A Note on Legality 83
6 Vietnam 92
7 Loss of Will 120
8 Democracy and the Intellectuals 136
9 Payroll Prosperity 153
10 Second Chance for the South 167
11 The Goals of Integration 180
12 Worlds Apart 205
13 The Worlds of Arthur Koestler 217
14 Reflections on Tiananmen 228
Acknowledgments 231
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