History Lessons: How Textbooks from Around the World Portray U.S. History

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"The American invaders...accompanied by their puppets, finally waged the war...The bastards who crossed the 38th parallel at dawn were stoking the flames of war, jumping around like mad men, yearning to invade the North." —North Korean textbook on the Korean War

History Lessons offers a lighthearted and fascinating challenge to the biases we bring to our understanding of American history. The subject of widespread attention when it was first published in 2004—including a full front-page review in the Washington Post Book World and features on NPR's Talk of the Nation and the History Channel—this book gives us a glimpse into classrooms across the globe, where opinions about the United States are first formed.

Heralded as "timely and important" (History News Network) and "shocking and fascinating" (New York Times), History Lessons includes selections from Russia, France, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Canada, and others, covering such events as the American Revolution, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Iran hostage crisis, and the Korean War, providing an alternative history of the United States from the Viking explorers to the post-Cold War era.

By juxtaposing starkly contrasting versions of the historical events we take for granted, History Lessons affords us a sometimes hilarious, often sobering look at what the world learns about America's past.

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Editorial Reviews

Daniel Swift
These may be conspiracy theories, or they may hold some traces of truth. But either way, neither History Lessons nor the United States can afford to dismiss the ways the rest of the world sees America, and how America is represented to young people in schools.
The New York Times
Foreign Affairs
Lindaman and Ward had a brilliant idea: show Americans what the rest of the world teaches its children about U.S. history by excerpting history textbooks from around the world. Unfortunately, they weren't able to carry it out. They include what French history texts teach about the French resistance in World War II, for example. Interesting stuff, perhaps, and especially for those who, like Lindaman (as we learn from the jacket notes), focus on the formation of French identity in secondary-school textbooks. But this excerpt, like far too many others in this unwieldy and poorly edited morass of a book, tells us exactly nothing about what the French learn about the United States. We can learn here what the British, Italians, Germans, and French are taught about the outbreak of World War I, or how the British describe the partition of Palestine, and we can read many other little snippets of information. Overall, the book leans too heavily on a handful of countries, and fails too signally to focus on what others are teaching and learning about the United States to serve any useful purpose.
Library Journal
Textbooks are political documents, commissioned methods for molding students' viewpoints as well as instruments for conveying essential facts. By compiling excerpts of secondary-school manuals from largely Anglophone although not exclusively European sources, Ward (history, Vincennes Univ.) and Lindaman (a doctoral candidate at Harvard) provide a valuable service for those largely familiar with U.S. texts only. The use of post-Soviet Russian sources as well as Cuban and North Korean works is especially revealing. After an introduction delineating national differences among foreign publishers and the caveat that "most languages have passive constructions that allow them to speak of something without assigning blame," the authors submit selected historical passages ranging chronologically from the European discovery of the "New World" to the post-Cold War era. The book clearly shows that the United States developed within a global context and that U.S. history was especially intricately intertwined with that of its hemispheric neighbors. That said, there are few new insights for most well-read historians. All the texts assessed are from 1988 through 2001, which necessarily sets this work in time; it would be enlightening to see a similar study done ten years hence. Recommended for public libraries and teachers' college collections.-Frederick J. Augustyn Jr., Library of Congress Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595580825
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 7/28/2006
  • Pages: 404
  • Sales rank: 476,194
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Dana Lindaman is studying Romance philology at Harvard University, focusing on the formation of French identity in secondary school textbooks.

Kyle Ward is an assistant professor of history and political science at Vincennes University in Indiana. He is the author of In the Shadow of Glory.

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Table of Contents

Pt. I The new world and a new American nation
1 Viking exploration : Norway, Canada 3
2 Columbus : Cuba, Caribbean 6
3 British exploration : Great Britain, Canada 13
4 Puritans : Great Britain 17
5 French and Indian War : Great Britain, Caribbean, Canada 21
6 Government in colonial America : Great Britain 29
7 The American Revolution : Great Britain, France, Canada, Caribbean, Germany 33
Pt. II Westward expansion
8 The War of 1812 : Great Britain, Canada, Caribbean 51
9 The Monroe Doctrine : Great Britain, Brazil, Caribbean, Mexico, France 57
10 Manifest destiny : Canada, Mexico, Brazil 65
11 Texas and the Mexican-American wars : Mexico 72
12 Slavery : Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Portugal, Great Britain, Mexico 79
13 The Civil War : Canada, Great Britain, Mexico 92
14 Immigration : Japan, Canada, Norway, Ireland, Italy 101
Pt. III A world power
15 Opening of Japan : Japan 109
16 The Spanish-American War : Spain, Philippines, Cuba, Caribbean 111
17 Philippine-American War : Philippines 123
18 Boxer Rebellion : China (Hong Kong), Japan, Great Britain 127
19 U.S. interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean : Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, Nicaragua, Caribbean 133
Pt. IV World War I
20 Causes of World War I : France, Germany, Italy, Great Britain 149
21 The Great War : France, Canada, Great Britain, Italy, Germany 158
22 Aftermath of the war : Germany, France, Nigeria, Great Britain 168
23 Invasion of Russia : Japan, Great Britain 175
24 The Treaty of Versailles : Germany, Japan, Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy 177
Pt. V The Great Depression and World War II
25 The Great Depression : Russia, France, Caribbean 193
26 World War II : Europe : Great Britain, Germany, Russia 202
27 D-Day and the liberation of Europe : Great Britain, Canada, France, Italy 214
28 Resistance : France, Italy, Germany 222
29 World War II : Pacific theater : Philippines, Japan 228
30 The atomic bomb : Japan, Philippines, Canada, Great Britain, Italy 238
Pt. VI The Cold War
31 The origins of the Cold War : Canada, Russia, Great Britain 247
32 The United Nations : Great Britain, Russia, Canada 256
33 The Cuban revolution : Cuba 261
34 Korean War : North Korea, South Korea, Great Britain, Russia, Canada, Japan 265
35 NATO : Great Britain, Russia, Canada 278
36 McCarthyism : Canada, France 281
37 Suez Canal : Great Britain, France, Israel, Saudi Arabia 285
38 The Cuban missile crisis : Cuba, Russia, Canada, Caribbean 297
39 The Pueblo incident : North Korea 307
40 The Vietnam War : France, Vietnam, Canada 310
41 The end of the Cold War : France, Russia, Canada 318
Pt. VII Modern times
42 The hostage crisis in Iran : Iran 325
43 Nicaragua in the 1980s : Nicaragua, Canada 329
44 Apartheid : Zimbabwe 333
45 Free trade : Canada, Mexico, Japan 336
46 U.S.-Philippine relations : Philippines 342
47 Cuban-American relations : Cuba 345
48 The Middle East : Saudi Arabia, Great Britain, France, Israel, Syria 347
49 Nuclear weapons in North Korea : North Korea 372
50 A new world order : France 376
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