A new, completely revised, expanded and updated edition of the million-selling New York Times bestseller that launched the entire Don't Know Much About(r) series
When Don't Know Much About(r) History first appeared thirteen years ago, it created a sensation. With humor, wit, great stories, and a trademark conversational style, the book brought Americans a fresh new take on history. Shattering myths and vividly bringing the past to life, it spent thirty-five consecutive weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Davis proved that Americans don't hate history -- they just hate the dull textbook version they were force-fed in school. The book became an instant classic, an "anti -textbook" that has sold more than 1.3 million copies.
In his irreverent and popular question-and- answer style, Davis now returns with a completely revised edition that brings history right up to the moment -- covering such topics as the end of the Cold War, Clinton's impeachment, the bizarre election of 2000, and the events that led to September 11.
Incorporating new research and discoveries, Davis also updates and expands on such long-standing American controversies as the Jefferson-Hemings affair, the Alger Hiss trial, and the Rosenberg spy case. And he includes an expanded "civics lesson" that examines some of America's hottest social and political issues, such as the death penalty, gun control, and school prayer.
For history buffs and history-phobes alike, longtime fans who need a refresher course, and for a new generation of Americans who are still in the dark about America's past, Davis proves once more why People magazine said, "Reading him is like returning to the classroom of the best teacher you ever had."
Davis, author of the trademarked series of Don't Know Much About primers, seeks to dispel public boredom and ignorance about history and correct mistakes about various historical events in this update of his bestselling survey of American history. He arranges the book around a series of short essays on questions ranging from the basic (e.g., "Why did the southern states secede from the United States?") to the esoteric ("What was Teddy Roosevelt's grandson doing in Iran?"), intended to crystallize larger themes in our country's past. Davis's engaging treatment is spicy but judicious. He notes sex scandals from Alexander Hamilton's to Bill Clinton's, tamps out JFK conspiracy theories and speculation about J. Edgar Hoover's cross-dressing, and debunks myths like the legend of Betsy Ross and the movie Mississippi Burning. He provides sharply drawn, even-handed accounts of controversies, and his verdicts are generally well considered. Unfortunately, because discussions are usually tied to colorful personalities, heroic movements and dramatic crises, processes that are quiet but profound, such as the post-war rise of suburbia and the decline of unions, tend to get slighted. There's lots of history to browse through here, but little historiography to tie it together; while the book is far superior to standard high-school treatments, and a valuable reference for students young and old, it still leaves the impression that history is just one damn thing after another.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 01, 2003
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