A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
Instead of the standard-issue tripe (‘Class, in what year was Millard Fillmore elected President?’) we get a history of our nation as lived by ordinary Americans. This masterpiece includes our forgotten labor history, violence against minorities, the lives of women, and generally the perspective of just plain folks. “Every American schoolchild learns about the Boston Massacre. But who learns about the massacre of 600 men, women, and children of the Pequot tribe in New England in 1637?”
The Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone & Peter Kuznick
The famed director (Platoon, JFK) and his writing partner begin with the Spanish-American war, and the beginning of American Empire. At the heart of this book (and the accompanying Showtime series) is the story of political juggernaut Henry Wallace, FDR’s vice-president, and a true Lefty. Wallace hated empires, and didn’t want the US to go in that direction. The story of his sabotage at the 1944 Democratic convention, the authors argue, still looms large.
Inventing a Nation by Gore Vidal
A small and very lively history of the invention of this country. Vidal quotes the private letters and public disputes of the Founding Fathers. Hamilton and Jefferson cross swords, with Adams in between. The author openly discusses that most forbidden of all subjects—the Founders' total rejection of democracy.
American students are taught almost straight-up mythology when they are taught American history. As the author points out: “History is the only field in which the more courses students take, the stupider they become.” Loewen tries to put things right. This book is his survey of a dozen or more high school textbooks, all of which are found wanting.