History in the Making: An Absorbing Look at How American History Has Changed in the Telling over the Last 200 Years

History in the Making: An Absorbing Look at How American History Has Changed in the Telling over the Last 200 Years

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by Kyle Roy Ward
     
 

From the widely acclaimed co-author of History Lessons, an examination of how the way we tell the story of our country has changed over time.

In this absorbing look at how the telling of American history has changed over the past three hundred years, historian Kyle Ward juxtaposes excerpts from U.S. history textbooks of different eras to compare…  See more details below

Overview

From the widely acclaimed co-author of History Lessons, an examination of how the way we tell the story of our country has changed over time.

In this absorbing look at how the telling of American history has changed over the past three hundred years, historian Kyle Ward juxtaposes excerpts from U.S. history textbooks of different eras to compare how the same event or historical figure has been portrayed differently at different times in our nation's history.

From the Boston Massacre to antebellum slavery, the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor to the stock market crash of 1929, Ward uncovers unexpected and often dramatic shifts of interpretation corresponding to prevailing attitudes at the time each textbook was written. History in the Making is the history of history—a stark reminder that even history itself changes over time.

For anyone whose view of history was turned on its ear by James Loewen's bestselling Lies My Teacher Told Me, here is striking, firsthand evidence of the shifting biases, politics, and cultural preferences in both our understanding of our own history and in what we teach our children about the past.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Ward (history & political science, Vincennes Univ.; coauthor, History Lessons: How Textbooks from Around the World Portray American History) presents excerpts from American history textbooks published in the United States between 1794 and 1999, with topics ranging from exploration and colonization to the American Revolution and the Cold War. His short introductions place the excerpts (fully sourced in endnotes) in context. As with his earlier work, which asserted that publicly promoted chronicles shaped students' viewpoints according to a society's standards, this book reveals that the exploration of the past has itself changed over time, along with ideals, values, and emphases. Ward's intention is to get readers to think historiographically, to look for personal or national bias and perspective rather than uniformly accepting everything in print. Although attendance at museums and theme parks indicates that many Americans love their history, the author suggests that more may be learned by realizing that history is the sum of changing and conflicting interpretations. This thought-provoking study is ideal for history buffs and the general public; for public libraries and teachers' college collections.-Frederick J. Augustyn Jr., Library of Congress Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Excerpts from American-history textbooks from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries trace the ways that history has been written and rewritten over time. Insofar as they can be known, the facts of history remain constant, but each generation interprets for itself the meaning of the past, emphasizing or obscuring characters, issues and episodes to reflect the latest twitch in the sociological/political zeitgeist. Ward (History/Vincennes Univ.) here provides excerpts from a range of history textbooks, addressing topics like the American Revolution, Native-American relations, slavery and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (In a chapter titled "Slavery in America," for example, the author excerpts passages from nine textbooks published from 1851 to 1995.) For the most part, he deals with well-known events (the Boston Massacre, the last stand at the Alamo) and characters (Washington, Lincoln). Other subjects-the Caroline Affair, the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, the Espionage Act-will be only dimly recalled by most. The excerpted materials are preceded by some rather thin analysis. Readers in search of a richer perspective on the subject would do better while Peter Charles Hoffer's Past Imperfect (2004). Still, the primary sources Ward provides are a good starting point for anyone interested in history and subjectivity. A handy, often diverting collection.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781595580443
Publisher:
New Press, The
Publication date:
10/03/2006
Pages:
374
Product dimensions:
6.42(w) x 9.24(h) x 1.38(d)

Meet the Author

Kyle Ward is an assistant professor of history and political science at Vincennes University, a co-author of History Lessons, and the author of In the Shadow of Glory. He lives in Terre Haute, Indiana.

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