The companion to the Showtime documentary series, director Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznick challenge the prevailing orthodoxies of traditional history books in this thoroughly researched and rigorously analyzed look at the dark side of American history.
“At last the world knows America as the savior of the world!”—Woodrow Wilson
The notion of American exceptionalism, dating back to John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon aboard the Arbella, still warps Americans’ understanding of their nation’s role in the world. Most are loathe to admit that the United States has any imperial pretensions. But history tells a different story as filmmaker Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznick reveal in this riveting account of the rise and decline of the American empire.
Aided by the latest archival findings and recently declassified documents and building on the research of the world’s best scholars, Stone and Kuznick construct an often shocking but meticulously documented “People’s History of the American Empire” that offers startling context to the Bush-Cheney policies that put us at war in two Muslim countries and show us why the Obama administration has had such a difficult time cleaving a new path.
Stone and Kuznick will introduce readers to a pantheon of heroes and villains as they show not only how far the United States has drifted from its democratic traditions, but the powerful forces that have struggled to get us back on track.
The authors reveal that:
· The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were militarily unnecessary and morally indefensible.
· The United States, not the Soviet Union, bore the lion’s share of responsibility for perpetuating the Cold War.
· The U.S. love affair with right-wing dictators has gone as far as overthrowing elected leaders, arming and training murderous military officers, and forcing millions of people into poverty.
· U.S.-funded Islamist fundamentalists, who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan, have blown back to threaten the interests of the U.S. and its allies.
· U.S. presidents, especially in wartime, have frequently trampled on the constitution and international law.
I AM AN OLDER WOMAN, HAVING LIVED FOR A VERY LONG TIME, I REMEMBER IN THE FIRST GRADE WE HELD ELECTIONS FOR PRESIDENT AND I VOTED FOR EISENHOWER. MILITARY MEN HAVE A TOP NOTCH INTEGRITY AND I TRUST THEM EVEN THEN. I FOUND THE PREMISE OF THE BOOK TO BE INTRIGUING. DOES HISTORY GET POLISHED AND CLEANED UP FOR CONSUMPTION TO THE LATER GENERATIONS. IS THE TRUTH NOT THE WHOLE STORY AS TOLD IN OUR SCHOOL BOOKS. I HAVE YET TO COMPLETE THE ENTIRE BOOK, BUT I LIKE THE REAL UNVARNISHED TRUTH RATHER THAN A POLISHED UP HALF TRUTH. BORN NEAR THE BEGINNING OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR I HAVE SEEN NEWS AND EVENTS UNFOLD AND I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A STUDENT OF HISTORY. SO I WILL CONTINUE TO SEARCH FOR THE ANSWERS IN THIS SERIES OF TV DOCUMENTARIES AND THE BOOK.
“History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors and issues.” T.S. Eliot
Those of you who have read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present (Perennial Classics) or Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, Revised and Updated Edition will devour Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick’s The Untold History of the United States. These two intellects bring fresh insight to a benighted past. Minor footnotes and characters, like Henry Wallace, in our history’s drama are bought to the forefront for once. The reader becomes Dante to Oliver Stone and Professor Kusnick’s Virgil, taking us through the gates of Hell in our personal history. In these pages the real Truman, Eisenhower, Reagan are exposed, not extolled or lionized. It is inscrutable and unconscionable what Truman did in Hiroshima. The truth behind who really defeated Germany. Terror bombing in WWII to terrorism in present day. As Historian Henry Steele Commager once pointed out, “From the beginning of our history, we’ve been rather casual about our crimes.”
Although the book is a companion to the documentary series on Showtime, which is highly recommended, the book stands alone and independent; it covers, in 14 chapters, the most important moments where we got history wrong. Cognitive dissonance will kick in. A certain sciolism exists in our culture as we whistle in the dark.
This book reads like a modern day version of Thucydides, the Greek historian, The History of the Peloponnesian War and the corruption of language.
As a culture inculcated by an embellished history, remember this:
If we do not choose our leaders carefully and become more engaged, and stop viewing history in hindsight, then we risk our nation becoming either a kakistocracy or catastrophe – you decide. You have more power then you think.
Think independently. “Question everything” as Marx once said.
Read this book.
Tell it right for once.