"Myth America" | Reviewed by Bill Schwab
“Myth America” is a compilation of 20 essays that refute the misguided untruths and disinformation about U.S. history that is currently widespread in media and popular culture. The resulting confusion about U.S. history has contributed to the animosity between political parties and the current cynicism of the general public about the effectiveness of government.
Replacing myths with extensive research and data, “Myth America” addresses today's heated debates about America’s past. An impressive roster of academic historians presents facts and rational arguments to readers who believe in facts over fiction.
Among the popular myths that the essays try to debunk are that Native Americans have contributed nothing to American Society, that voter fraud always has been an issue, and that the women's movement has been anti-family.
While several articles read more like extended editorials that devolve into attacks on conservatives, the more compelling essays offer thoughtful information about the origin of the challenged myth, its history, and how media, politicians, and historians have distorted the truth to serve a particular viewpoint.
One of the more illuminating treatises is about the development of the Constitution and The Federalist Papers over the issue of whether secession was regarded as legal by the framers. Another essay is Eric Rauchway’s well-written exposition on the New Deal and the Great Society. Rauchway argues from both political and economic positions, that these programs made a greater impact on American Society than is currently recognized or understood.
“Myth America” provides an informative corrective to today's histories that have been retrofitted for political and economic purposes. Basic Books is the publisher of this thoroughly researched and indexed 371-page collection of essays.
About the Editors: Kevin M. Kruse is a professor of history at Princeton University and the editor or author of five books including “White Flight” and “One Nation Under God.” Julian E. Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and the author and editor of numerous books most recently” Burning Down the House” and “Abraham Joshua Heschel.”