Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past

Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past

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by Ray Raphael
     
 

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First published ten years ago, award-winning historian Ray Raphael’s Founding Myths has since established itself as a landmark of historical myth-busting. With Raphael’s trademark wit and flair, Founding Myths exposed the errors and inventions in America’s most cherished tales, from Paul Revere’s famous ride to Patrick

Overview

First published ten years ago, award-winning historian Ray Raphael’s Founding Myths has since established itself as a landmark of historical myth-busting. With Raphael’s trademark wit and flair, Founding Myths exposed the errors and inventions in America’s most cherished tales, from Paul Revere’s famous ride to Patrick Henry’s “Liberty or Death” speech. For the thousands who have been captivated by Raphael’s eye-opening accounts, history has never been the same.

In this revised tenth-anniversary edition, Raphael revisits the original myths and further explores their evolution over time, uncovering new stories and peeling back new layers of misinformation. This new edition also examines the highly politicized debates over America’s past, as well as how our approach to history in school reinforces rather than corrects historical mistakes.

A book that “explores the truth behind the stories of the making of our nation” (National Public Radio), this revised edition of Founding Myths will be a welcome resource for anyone seeking to separate historical fact from fiction.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Praise for the tenth-anniversary edition of Founding Myths:
"A persuasive argument in favor of evidence-based history, even if it means surrendering some of our cherished fabrications."
Kirkus Reviews

Praise for the original edition:
"Ray Raphael's engaging and eye-opening book doesn’t merely debunk historical fallacies. Using the best modern historical writing and his own research, the author also explains why and to what purpose these myths were created and then offers well-argued alternative explanations."
Sacramento Bee

"Raphael relays so much forgotten or never-known history and argues so well why it, not the legends, should be remembered that virtually any Americans will profit from reading this lively, intelligent book."
Booklist

"All students of American history will find Raphael's correction of the historical record instructive and enjoyable."
Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews
2014-05-17
A distinguished historian revisits the American legends he effectively debunked 10 years ago and discovers that they die hard.Over two centuries after the nation's founding, does the narrative change when we understand that Paul Revere didn't really ride alone, that Sam Adams wasn't a "one-man revolution," that the Declaration didn't spring full-blown from the mind of Thomas Jefferson, that Patrick Henry likely never said, "give me liberty or give me death," or that Molly Pitcher never existed at all? Raphael (Senior Research Fellow/Humboldt State Univ.; Constitutional Myths: What We Get Wrong and How to Get It Right, 2013, etc.) takes on a number of myths and legends that have crept unquestioned into our textbooks and popular histories, and he explains their persistence and the damage done if they remain uncorrected. He also highlights some stories we have failed to tell. How is our understanding changed if we discover that the tale of the cruel winter and patient suffering at Valley Forge has an unacknowledged twin, two years later, at the Morristown encampment, where the weather was colder and the soldiers mutinied? What if we learn that the American struggle for independence, itself only a small part of a worldwide conflict, was also a war of conquest in the West and featured a brutal civil war in the South? By slapping tidy beginnings and endings on stories, we distort a deeper, more complex history. By fashioning them into stick figures, we turn the Founders into an assembly of demigods. Worst of all, Raphael argues, we understate the central theme of the American Revolution—popular sovereignty—and marginalize the contributions made by millions of common citizens. Overlooking this genuine heritage, he insists, takes the Revolution out of the hands of the people, without whom the entire enterprise would surely have failed.A persuasive argument in favor of evidence-based history, even if it means surrendering some of our cherished fabrications.
Library Journal
Author of A People's History of the American Revolution, Raphael once again turns to that period, aiming to punctuate popular perceptions deriving from the 19th century's penchant for solitary romantic agents. He focuses on 13 stories revolving around either mythical or genuine figures and events, including Paul Revere's ride, Molly Pitcher's battlefield heroics, Sam Adams as the supposed architect of independence, the shot heard 'round the world, the Valley Forge winter, the lauded generation of the Founding Fathers, and the presumed denouement at Yorktown of a global conflict that continued elsewhere. Curiously, the fabricated tale of flag-maker Betsy Ross is not included as a separate entry. Raphael buttresses his points by introducing each chapter with iconic illustrations by Jonathan Trumbull, John Singleton Copley, Howard Pyle, and others. Amply annotated, this anthology underscores the idea that knowing the truth about numerous anonymous players rather than holding to elaborate story lines is more empowering for a starkly realistic age. Especially recommended for all public library and undergraduate collections.-Frederick J. Augustyn Jr., Library of Congress Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781595589491
Publisher:
New Press, The
Publication date:
07/04/2014
Edition description:
Tenth Anniversary Edition
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
252,333
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author


Ray Raphael has taught at a one-room public high school, Humboldt State University, and College of the Redwoods. His seventeen books include A People’s History of the American Revolution, The First American Revolution, Founders, and Constitutional Myths (all available from The New Press). Currently a senior research fellow at Humboldt State University, he lives in northern California, where he hikes and kayaks.

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Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ray Raphael's 'Founding Myths' is a realistic vision of American history that should be read by every teacher of history in our schools. It should be read by citizens as well so that they understand the concerns that brought about the American Revolution and how those concerns are applicable in today's world. We live too much in a world of myth because myths simplify things, giving us only black and white rather than including the many shades of gray that are part of history. Raphael touches on the issue of American imperialism and makes the reader aware that what was a gain for some was a tragic loss for others. These are not lessons that are taught in our history classes. The cover blurb that refers to the book as 'iconoclastic' is slightly misleading since the book presents a representation of reality--warts and all. This is a book for all small 'd' democrats.