June 16, 2024

Hankering for History

Hanker: To have a strong, often restless desire, in this case for–you guessed it–history!

History Book Recalled (And one that needs to be.)

3 min read
The Jefferson Lies

The Jefferson Lies

The Jefferson Lies
The Jefferson Lies, by David Barton

Many of you may remember that several weeks ago I wrote a post,  HNN / Least Credible Book, which discussed briefly my opinion on materials being published that were just flat-out wrong. There was also a link to an ongoing poll where readers were to vote on a list of “least creditable books” on the History News Now website. As it turns out, the winner was The Jefferson Lies, by David Barton. So I was less than shocked when I heard the publisher recently pulled the book. [1] Well I was a little shocked. I have not read this book myself but generally any time that the entire historical community condemns a book, it is a bad sign. Pulling a book, especially one as successful as this one, is very uncommon. Publisher Brian Hampton said,

“The truth is, the withdrawing a book from the market is extremely rare. It’s so rare I can’t think of the last time we’ve done this,” Hampton said. But, he said, “If there are matters of fact not correctly handled or the basic truth is not there, we would make a decision based on that.”

It is refreshing to see a corporation do the right thing. I am glad that this particular book has been pulled. Now if we could recall the majority of history textbooks, the historical community would be a happier group.

I received a book the other day from a friend entitled Contrary to Popular Belief, by Joey Green. It advertises that is has “more than two hundred bits of conventional ‘wisdom’ that are complete bunk.” In reading through it, I have found a lot of the information to be true. (Some I knew, some I didn’t.) Below is an excerpt from the book.

Contrary to Popular Belief, by Joey Green
Contrary to Popular Belief, by Joey Green

As my name is Grant, I know a little more than the average person about Ulysses S. Grant. Yes, I was aware that his name was Hiram Ulysses Grant.  My initials spell GO, so I also made the connection that his initials spelled HUG. So why bring this up? Unless the author of this book knows something that I don’t (nor Wikipedia or Whitehouse.org), President Grant was not the “seventeeth”[sic] president of the United States. So yes, thank you for clearing up any confusion about who the real seventeenth president was. Thank you for stating the obvious.

Not only do they imply that he was the seventeenth president of the United States, but the publisher and author couldn’t even spell seventeenth correctly. Unless President Grant only had seven teeth, then maybe it is just a nickname. Last time I checked his nickname was Unconditional Surrender Grant, so this is probably not the case. It amazes me what is published these days.

While this book has and will give me ideas, these “facts” will be taken with a grain of salt. I definitely cannot use this as my only source. You can click here for the link to HNN’s results from the poll. This was you will know which books you might want to avoid.

[1] NPR

5 thoughts on “History Book Recalled (And one that needs to be.)

  1. I think that it was actually bad form for the publisher to pull this book. The publisher is responsible for making sure that whatever they print checks out to be accurate and true. By pulling this book they are either stating that they weren’t doing their job correctly, or else they were pressured by groups to pull it. Since when did it become okay to ban a book? We don’t even ban the Communist Manifesto, but it’s okay to ban a book by a VERY reputable historian? David Barton happened to use original sources for his book that he can pull out and show to anybody who wants to see it. His biggest critic is a guy who doesn’t even have a degree in History and uses another historian’s book for his reference. The book used for the critic’s reference has a footnote saying that the author just ignored part of what he found due to the simple fact that he couldn’t possibly believe that Jefferson would have believed that. So despite the fact that he had proof right in front of him, he just ignored it. Is that really a reputable source that you would want to quote?? I’m sorry, I might be in the small minority, but I believe David Barton’s book is factual and not full of lies.

    1. And as for the other book?

      For the most part, I definitely agree that once it is out there, there is no taking it back. I guess I really should have put more emphasis on checking facts (and in the case of the second book proofreading) before the book is published. And we are hardly banning the book–just maybe label it as Fiction. 🙂 Haha!

      Like I said, I haven’t read the book…so maybe I shouldn’t get an opinion. However, there is no arguing with the Ulysses S Grant page from the second book. It is just crap…and how in the world did that get published?

  2. At the very least you should listen to David Barton defend his book in his own words. Glenn Beck gave Mr. Barton the chance to defend the charges, plus be sure to read the articles linked on The Blaze for some unbiased research into the claims on whether this book is full of lies or not: http://www.glennbeck.com/2012/08/16/david-barton-responds-to-critics-during-interview-with-glenn-on-gbtv/

    I often wonder how a LOT of this crap gets published, but take a look at consumers nowadays. These are the people who can tell you what the names of the Jersey Shore people are, but they couldn’t tell you in what years the Civil War took place. I think that just about anybody can get published nowadays. Maybe the publisher who put out this book with the information on Grant were the same people who are in charge of editing my local newspaper. If that was the case then it all is so very clear about how such inaccuracies were allowed to be printed. 🙂

  3. It’s too bad that history is mostly opinion. After all, history is always written by the winners. (of the war.) I’ve noticed recently that history is continually rewritten. The history books I grew up with have been (banned?) and new revisionist history has replaced it. This history is suspect at least and prejudicial for the most part. This is the way they write history nowadays: Series of headlines:

    Man saves child from drowning. Later…hero who saves child was once convicted of a DUI! Then later, DUI offender luckily on hand to save drowing child. Then later…Drunk man implicated with minor in nearly fatal drowning controversy. And finally, Drunk man nearly drowns child. Small steps…spinning spinning spinning and the result is a complete bold-faced lie. Welcome to American History as told by today’s liberals.

  4. Joey Green’s book has a typo. Big fat deal. It needs a proofreader, that’s all. Put in an errata page, like they did in the old days.

    Basically, you’re making a big deal over one word. It’s the wrong word, and spelled wrong, but it’s just one word. How many people do you know who got 100 percent on every English assignment, and 100 percent on the SATs? You notice one mistake and would have an entire book pulled?

    I’d say, just correct the error in the next edition. That’s what is normally done. Create an errata page on the publisher’s website. The errata page could be put in library editions of this book. Again, this is common practice.

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