… And the loser is …

I see from Chris Rhodda that the History News Network has selected David Barton’s The Jefferson Lies as the least credible history book currently in print. That’s quite an accomplishment, although it looks like it came down to a neck-and-neck race with Zinn’s People’s History of the United States.

According to the NY Times:

After a week of voting by readers, David Barton’s “The Jefferson Lies” won with some 650 votes, narrowly edging the left-wing historian Howard Zinn’s “People’s History of the United States,” which received 641 votes.

Trailing far behind were Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s “Killing Lincoln” (which argues that Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton was complicit in Lincoln’s assassination); Thomas DiLorenzo’s “The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War”; and Gavin Menzies’s “1421: The Year China Discovered America.”

  • Nox

    “History News Network has selected David Barton’s The Jefferson Lies as the least credible history book currently in print.”

    I guess a poll can sometimes stumble onto the truth. Apparently all is as it should…

    “it looks like it came down to a neck-and-neck race with Zinn’s People’s History of the United States.”

    What? What the f*ck?!?! What the f*ck is wrong with these idiots.

    People’s History is polemic. It is one sided. It f*cking declares itself to be so from the title onward. It is by its mission statement, not objective. And I could see how it could upset some feelings among right-wing poll respondents. But how is it wrong? Because it doesn’t tell the version of history that Barton fans want to read?

    Since the book already addresses this (and I suspect a majority of those who voted for it have never actually read it), I’ll just let Zinn defend himself here.

    “As for the title of this book, it is not quite accurate; a “people’s history” promises more than any one person can fulfill, and it is the most difficult kind of history to recapture. I call it that anyway because, with all its limitations, it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people’s movements of resistance.

    That makes it a biased account, one that leans in a certain direction. I am not troubled by that, because the mountain of history books under which we all stand leans so heavily in the other direction-so tremblingly respectful of states and statesmen and so disrespectful, by inattention, to people’s movements-that we need some counterforce to avoid being crushed into submission.

    All those histories of this country centered on the Founding Fathers and the Presidents weigh oppressively on the capacity of the ordinary citizen to act. They suggest that in times of crisis we must look to someone to save us: in the Revolutionary crisis, the Founding Fathers; in the slavery crisis, Lincoln; in the Depression, Roosevelt; in the Vietnam-Watergate crisis, Carter. And that between occasional crises everything is all right, and it is sufficient for us to be restored to that normal state. They teach us that the supreme act of citizenship is to choose among saviors, by going into a voting booth every four years to choose between two white and well-off Anglo-Saxon males of inoffensive personality and orthodox opinions.

    The idea of saviors has been built into the entire culture, beyond politics. We have learned to look to stars, leaders, experts in every field, thus surrendering our own strength, demeaning our own ability, obliterating our own selves. But from time to time, Americans reject that idea and rebel.

    These rebellions, so far, have been contained. The American system is the most ingenious system of control in world history. With a country so rich in natural resources, talent, and labor power the system can afford to distribute just enough wealth to just enough people to limit discontent to a troublesome minority. It is a country so powerful, so big, so pleasing to so many of its citizens that it can afford to give freedom of dissent to the small number who are not pleased.

    There is no system of control with more openings, apertures, lee-ways, flexibilities, rewards for the chosen, winning tickets in lotteries. There is none that disperses its controls more complexly through the voting system, the work situation, the church, the family, the school, the mass media- none more successful in mollifying opposition with reforms, isolating people from one another, creating patriotic loyalty.

    One percent of the nation owns a third of the wealth. The rest of the wealth is distributed in such a way as to turn those in the 99 percent against one another: small property owners against the propertyless, black against white, native-born against foreign-born, intellectuals and professionals against the uneducated and unskilled. These groups have resented one another and warred against one another with such vehemence and violence as to obscure their common position as sharers of leftovers in a very wealthy country.”

    I put it to anyone reading this, that the previous seven paragraphs are by a wide margin the most accurate thing you’re going to read anywhere today.

    • Theory_of_I

      For the many who are trapped in the propaganda, it may be the most accurate thing they will ever read.
      It will also be a thing they will vehemently reject today and wilfully ignore in the future.

    • vasaroti

      While I agree with the gist of this, the objections by the history professors quoted at the History News Network seem pretty serious.

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    So are you saying Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s “Killing Lincoln” is credible since it is “trailing far behind”?
    My wife enjoyed the book (see was given it by her Republican mother). Do you have any links to those who criticize it?

    • vorjack

      I suspect that most of the voter simply thought it would disappear without creating a ripple. There’s no need to get upset about a book that will soon be forgotten. And most of its errors are result of simple sloppiness rather than partisan bias.

      I’ve only scanned the book, but I wrote about it here: O’Reilly Flunks History.

  • Keulan
  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.crass.9 Michael

    I can’t believe that Kenneth Copeland ministries is still supporting and pushing David Barton big time. He even has an article in this month’s Copeland magazine, “The Believer’s Voice Of Victory”. If I were still a Christian, this would discredit the Copeland ministry in my mind. After all, they are staunch believers in always telling the truth as the Bible commands. I think they are all liars for Jesus and push Baton because they, like Barton, support a theocratic agenda to make this a staunch Christian nation and take away the rights of non-Christians. Truth doesn’t matter to these fascist charlatans!