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Not so! : popular myths about America from Columbus to Clinton /
Paul F. Boller, Jr.
imprint
New York : Oxford University Press, 1995.
description
278 p. ; 22 cm.
ISBN
0195091868
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Oxford University Press, 1995.
isbn
0195091868
catalogue key
1341586
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1995-06-19:
Boller, an emeritus professor of history at Texas Christian University, aims this compendium at a specialized audience: those who think they know a lot about history, but don't. Boller begins each short section by stating the ``myth'' he is about to debunk (``Washington's dentures were made of wood''; ``Harry Truman was an obscurity when President Roosevelt picked him as his running mate in 1944''), after which he presents a pithy lecture on what really happened. Boller doesn't distinguish between matters of fact (e.g., Millard Fillmore installing the first bathtub in the White House) and matters of interpretation (whether U.S. policymakers were soft on communism and therefore ``lost'' China). It doesn't matter. The writing is lively, and readers will come away knowing-or thinking they know-something they didn't. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"A superior package of intellectual bonbons....Oh, conspiracy theorists won't like Boller's work, but the rest of us will."--Booklist
"A superior package of intellectual bonbons....Oh, conspiracy theoristswon't like Boller's work, but the rest of us will."--Booklist
"A superior package of intellectual bonbons....Oh, conspiracy theorists won't like Boller's work, but the rest of us will."-- Booklist "The writing is lively, and readers will come away knowing--or thinking they know--something they didn't."-- Publishers Weekly
"A superior package of intellectual bonbons....Oh, conspiracy theorists won't like Boller's work, but the rest of us will."--Booklist "The writing is lively, and readers will come away knowing--or thinking they know--something they didn't."--Publishers Weekly
"In its 44 brief chapters, Boller's entertaining little handbook for iconoclasts smashes two score more hallowed misconceptions. We learn that George Washington's false teeth were not made of wood, that Tom Paine was not an atheist, and that Harriet Beecher Stowe's hero was not an 'Uncle Tom'in the current derogatory sense of the term.... Myths beloved by both the Right and the Left are skewered with equal relish."--The Plain Dealer
"In its 44 brief chapters, Boller's entertaining little handbook foriconoclasts smashes two score more hallowed misconceptions. We learn that GeorgeWashington's false teeth were not made of wood, that Tom Paine was not anatheist, and that Harriet Beecher Stowe's hero was not an 'Uncle Tom' in thecurrent derogatory sense of the term.... Myths beloved by both the Right and theLeft are skewered with equal relish."--The Plain Dealer
"Just myths. But then again, they're sure worth spreading once you hear them for the first time in this book."--Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"Just myths. But then again, they're sure worth spreading once you hearthem for the first time in this book."--Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"The writing is lively, and readers will come away knowing--or thinking they know--something they didn't."--Publishers Weekly
"The writing is lively, and readers will come away knowing--or thinkingthey know--something they didn't."--Publishers Weekly
This item was reviewed in:
Booklist,
Publishers Weekly, June 1995
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Authored Title
Disproves or challenges 44 myths people generally consider truth, such as Columbus's notion of a round earth being uncommon and that FDR knew in advance about Pearl Harbor.
Bowker Data Service Summary
Not so! That's the answer to forty-four popular but entirely mistaken beliefs about American history! The basis of each myth and misconception is explored, and then fully debunked in this fascinating book.
Long Description
In sailing westward in 1492, did Columbus defy the prevailing belief that the Earth was flat? Was Thomas Paine an atheist? Was Truman plucked from obscurity to be FDR's running mate in 1944? Are presidential campaigns nowadays far dirtier than they were in the past? Is Hillary Clinton the most active or influential First Lady ever? Not so, says Paul Boller, in this delightfully informative look at some of the most common myths and misconceptions about the American past. As he did in his bestselling They Never Said It, Boller provides us with a cornucopia of historical correction, debunking myths that range from the trivial--for instance, George Washington did not have false teeth made of wood (they were made of ivory)--to the pernicious (FDR did not know in advance that the Japanese planned to bomb Pearl Harbor). We learn that most educated people in Columbus's day knew the world was round (it was Washington Irving who first portrayed Columbus as defying a coterie of flat-earthers); that Washington's famous Farewell Address was mostly written by Alexander Hamilton; that the Pledge of Allegiance was penned by Francis Bellamy, a devout socialist, in 1892 (and it was intended as a paean to big government); that Thomas Paine was not an atheist, but a deist (as were Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin), and his Age of Reason attacked both organized religion and atheism; that Truman was far from an obscure politician in 1944 (he had been on the cover of Time in 1943 for his Senate work uncovering waste and fraud in the war industries, and a Look magazine poll placed Truman among the ten figures who had contributed the most to the war effort); that presidential campaigns in the old days were more vituperative than recent ones; and that several First Ladies were more influential than Hillary Clinton, most notably Eleanor Roosevelt and Edith Wilson (the latter played a crucial role in her husband's administration from 1919 to 1921, after he suffered a massive stroke). Boller doesn't simply debunk each myth, but instead provides us with much fascinating history surrounding each case, so that the reader is treated to intriguing discussions of many singular episodes in American history, including the Kennedy assassination, the McCarthy hearings, the events leading up to Pearl Harbor, and Watergate. And finally, if the book provides many eye-opening surprises and amusing passages, there is also a serious side of Boller's exploration of American myth. As he shows, much misinformation has been cooked up for political or ideological reasons. By debunking these tales, Boller warns us to question what we hear and what we think we know about America and about our leaders, past and present. The chronicles of American history are strewn with legends, fables, folklore, misconceptions, and outright lies. Patriotism has set many a tall tale in motion, but so have political partisanship and ideological zeal. For everyone who loves history--or the truth--Paul Boller has given us a candid and absorbing look at the American past that helps us get a good sense of where we have been and who we are as a people.
Main Description
In sailing westward in 1492, did Columbus defy the prevailing belief that the Earth was flat? Was Thomas Paine an atheist? Was Truman plucked from obscurity to be FDR's running mate in 1944? Are presidential campaigns nowadays far dirtier than they were in the past? Is Hillary Clinton the mostactive or influential First Lady ever? Not so, says Paul Boller, in this delightfully informative look at some of the most common myths and misconceptions about the American past. As he did in his bestselling They Never Said It, Boller provides us with a cornucopia of historical correction, debunking myths that range from the trivial--for instance, George Washington did not have false teeth made of wood (they were made of ivory)--to the pernicious (FDR did not know inadvance that the Japanese planned to bomb Pearl Harbor). We learn that most educated people in Columbus's day knew the world was round (it was Washington Irving who first portrayed Columbus as defying a coterie of flat-earthers); that Washington's famous Farewell Address was mostly written byAlexander Hamilton; that the Pledge of Allegiance was penned by Francis Bellamy, a devout socialist, in 1892 (and it was intended as a paean to big government); that Thomas Paine was not an atheist, but a deist (as were Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin), and his Age of Reason attacked bothorganized religion and atheism; that Truman was far from an obscure politician in 1944 (he had been on the cover of Time in 1943 for his Senate work uncovering waste and fraud in the war industries, and a Look magazine poll placed Truman among the ten figures who had contributed the most to the wareffort); that presidential campaigns in the old days were more vituperative than recent ones; and that several First Ladies were more influential than Hillary Clinton, most notably Eleanor Roosevelt and Edith Wilson (the latter played a crucial role in her husband's administration from 1919 to 1921,after he suffered a massive stroke). Boller doesn't simply debunk each myth, but instead provides us with much fascinating history surrounding each case, so that the reader is treated to intriguing discussions of many singular episodes in American history, including the Kennedy assassination, theMcCarthy hearings, the events leading up to Pearl Harbor, and Watergate. And finally, if the book provides many eye-opening surprises and amusing passages, there is also a serious side of Boller's exploration of American myth. As he shows, much misinformation has been cooked up for political orideological reasons. By debunking these tales, Boller warns us to question what we hear and what we think we know about America and about our leaders, past and present. The chronicles of American history are strewn with legends, fables, folklore, misconceptions, and outright lies. Patriotism has set many a tall tale in motion, but so have political partisanship and ideological zeal. For everyone who loves history--or the truth--Paul Boller has given us a candidand absorbing look at the American past that helps us get a good sense of where we have been and who we are as a people.
Main Description
In sailing westward in 1492, did Columbus defy the prevailing belief that the Earth was flat? Was Thomas Paine an atheist? Was Truman plucked from obscurity to be FDR's running mate in 1944? Are presidential campaigns nowadays far dirtier than they were in the past? Is Hillary Clinton the most active or influential First Lady ever? Not so, says Paul Boller, in this delightfully informative look at some of the most common myths and misconceptions about the American past. As he did in his bestselling They Never Said It , Boller provides us with a cornucopia of historical correction, debunking myths that range from the trivial--for instance, George Washington did not have false teeth made of wood (they were made of ivory)--to the pernicious (FDR did not know in advance that the Japanese planned to bomb Pearl Harbor). We learn that most educated people in Columbus's day knew the world was round (it was Washington Irving who first portrayed Columbus as defying a coterie of flat-earthers); that Washington's famous Farewell Address was mostly written by Alexander Hamilton; that the Pledge of Allegiance was penned by Francis Bellamy, a devout socialist, in 1892 (and it was intended as a paean to big government); that Thomas Paine was not an atheist, but a deist (as were Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin), and his Age of Reason attacked both organized religion and atheism; that Truman was far from an obscure politician in 1944 (he had been on the cover of Time in 1943 for his Senate work uncovering waste and fraud in the war industries, and a Look magazine poll placed Truman among the ten figures who had contributed the most to the war effort); that presidential campaigns in the old days were more vituperative than recent ones; and that several First Ladies were more influential than Hillary Clinton, most notably Eleanor Roosevelt and Edith Wilson (the latter played a crucial role in her husband's administration from 1919 to 1921, after he suffered a massive stroke). Boller doesn't simply debunk each myth, but instead provides us with much fascinating history surrounding each case, so that the reader is treated to intriguing discussions of many singular episodes in American history, including the Kennedy assassination, the McCarthy hearings, the events leading up to Pearl Harbor, and Watergate. And finally, if the book provides many eye-opening surprises and amusing passages, there is also a serious side of Boller's exploration of American myth. As he shows, much misinformation has been cooked up for political or ideological reasons. By debunking these tales, Boller warns us to question what we hear and what we think we know about America and about our leaders, past and present. The chronicles of American history are strewn with legends, fables, folklore, misconceptions, and outright lies. Patriotism has set many a tall tale in motion, but so have political partisanship and ideological zeal. For everyone who loves history--or the truth--Paul Boller has given us a candid and absorbing look at the American past that helps us get a good sense of where we have been and who we are as a people.
Main Description
In sailing westward in 1492, did Columbus defy the prevailing belief that the Earth was flat? Was Thomas Paine an atheist? Was Truman plucked from obscurity to be FDR's running mate in 1944? Are presidential campaigns nowadays far dirtier than they were in the past? Is Hillary Clinton the most active or influential First Lady ever? Not so, says Paul Boller, in this delightfully informative look at some of the most common myths and misconceptions about the American past. As he did in his bestsellingThey Never Said It, Boller provides us with a cornucopia of historical correction, debunking myths that range from the trivial--for instance, George Washington did not have false teeth made of wood (they were made of ivory)--to the pernicious (FDR did not know in advance that the Japanese planned to bomb Pearl Harbor). We learn that most educated people in Columbus's day knew the world was round (it was Washington Irving who first portrayed Columbus as defying a coterie of flat-earthers); that Washington's famous Farewell Address was mostly written by Alexander Hamilton; that the Pledge of Allegiance was penned by Francis Bellamy, a devout socialist, in 1892 (and it was intended as a paean to big government); that Thomas Paine was not an atheist, but a deist (as were Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin), and hisAge of Reasonattacked both organized religionandatheism; that Truman was far from an obscure politician in 1944 (he had been on the cover ofTimein 1943 for his Senate work uncovering waste and fraud in the war industries, and aLookmagazine poll placed Truman among the ten figures who had contributed the most to the war effort); that presidential campaigns in the old days were more vituperative than recent ones; and that several First Ladies were more influential than Hillary Clinton, most notably Eleanor Roosevelt and Edith Wilson (the latter played a crucial role in her husband's administration from 1919 to 1921, after he suffered a massive stroke). Boller doesn't simply debunk each myth, but instead provides us with much fascinating history surrounding each case, so that the reader is treated to intriguing discussions of many singular episodes in American history, including the Kennedy assassination, the McCarthy hearings, the events leading up to Pearl Harbor, and Watergate. And finally, if the book provides many eye-opening surprises and amusing passages, there is also a serious side of Boller's exploration of American myth. As he shows, much misinformation has been cooked up for political or ideological reasons. By debunking these tales, Boller warns us to question what we hear and what we think we know about America and about our leaders, past and present. The chronicles of American history are strewn with legends, fables, folklore, misconceptions, and outright lies. Patriotism has set many a tall tale in motion, but so have political partisanship and ideological zeal. For everyone who loves history--or the truth--Paul Boller has given us a candid and absorbing look at the American past that helps us get a good sense of where we have been and who we are as a people.
Main Description
Paul Boller explores a number of myths and misconceptions about theAmerican past. The book covers a range of American history, from whetherColumbus knew the world was round when he left to discover America to the"president-bashing" of Bill Clinton.
Table of Contents
Columbus and the Flat-Earthersp. 3
Pre-Columbian Americap. 7
The Puritans and Religious Freedomp. 13
Roger Williams's Soul Libertyp. 16
Sex and the American Puritanp. 19
The Second and the Fourth of Julyp. 25
George Washington's Prayer at Valley Forgep. 29
George Washington's False Teethp. 33
The Founding Fathers and Democracyp. 35
The Declaration, the Constitution, and Natural Rightsp. 39
The Religion of Thomas Painep. 42
Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemingsp. 45
Thomas Jefferson on Governmentp. 49
James Madison and Congressional Powerp. 52
War of 1812 and Vietnamp. 55
President Fillmore's Bathtubp. 61
William T. Seward and the Higher Lawp. 63
Uncle Tom as a Black Herop. 66
Sexual Preferences: Abraham Lincoln and James Buchananp. 72
Abraham Lincoln's Defense of His Wifep. 77
Abraham Lincoln's Religionp. 79
Senator Lodge and the League of Nationsp. 86
President Harding's Strange Deathp. 95
Herbert Hoover and the Great Depressionp. 98
Justice Holmes and President Rooseveltp. 102
Presidential Ghostwritersp. 104
Fdr and Soviet Recognitionp. 110
Franklin Roosevelt and the Attack on Pearl Harborp. 117
Eleanor Roosevelt's Love Lifep. 127
Fdr and Yaltap. 135
Harry Truman and the Vice Presidencyp. 144
Hiroshima and the American Leftp. 147
Losing Chinap. 154
Mccarthy and the Commiesp. 161
Jfk and Vietnamp. 167
The Kennedy Assassinationp. 173
Richard Nixon's Domestic Policiesp. 183
Watergatep. 188
The Pledge of Allegiancep. 195
Presidential Salutesp. 198
Presidential Campaignsp. 204
Presidential Wivesp. 213
Presidential Scandalsp. 222
President-Bashingp. 232
Notesp. 247
Indexp. 271
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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