Can someone recommend a book for me?

Being a product of the public school system, I have what I suspect to be a limited view of U.S. history. Grades 3-10 each started over with the Pilgrims, some may have got as far as WW2…But not beyond, certainly. As a result I’m embarassingly clueless about the 1950’s on, plus, I’m sure all my info comes from sanitized, “Yay, we’re America and we’re perfect!” text books anyway.


Can someone recommend an U.S. History book that gives a good history–complete with the good, bad, and ugly? Hopefully in one or two books (I’m not looking to read many many books…)

Thanks, everyone who responds!

Bailey and Kennedy’s The American Pageant is pretty comprehensive.

Also check out Kenneth Davis’s Don’t Know Much About History. It’s specifically geared toward American History.

What you are looking for is ‘The Fifties’ by David Halberstam.

This may be my finest post.

How can any history buff not read and enjoy “Dave Barry Slept Here”?

Chaim Mattis Keller

“Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the
impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be
the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible.
The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks.”
– Douglas Adams’s Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective

See if you can find the 1950s volume of the Time/Life series This Fabulous Century. It was a great decade-by-decade overview, put out back in the late '60s, when Time/Life still did wonderful books on artists, science, geography, etc.–now all they do is Psychic Phenomena and Unsolved Murders and similar crapola.

I recommend the aforementioned Don’t Know Much About History followed by the Onion’s Our Dumb Century.

Brando, I’m so glad someone else admits to this besides me. My husband can’t fathom the poor quality of my history classes. I insisted that every year would begin with Plymouth Rock, we’d make it about to Prohibition, and then for the final exam the teacher would tell us how to fill in the last 10 or so bubbles on the test! I’m going to look into a few of these books myself, if only so I don’t have to ask impossibly brain dead questions like “Was that the war with Hitler?”


Well, at least my classes made it through WW2. But, yeah, isn’t it crazy that teachers don’t coordinate and say, okay, I’ll teach from the Native American/arrival of Europeans through the Civil War (or whatever), Bill, you teach from then on through WW2, and Mary, you teach about the last 50 years…etc. It would not be hard to pull off, and a better education.

I was looking for the books that have been recommended so far at the library, and another I picked up that looks interesting is “Lies My Teacher Told Me” by James W. Loewen. Looks good, but I can’t say whether it IS good yet.

Thanks for all the rec’s so far!!!

For history books on this (or any area of History), I would suggest you go down to your local college bookstore and buy whatever book they are ussing for their upper-level US history class. Unfortunantly, history is full or crackpots, and unless you are an expert is is very hard to tell the difference between scholorship and advocacy. Upper level history professors usually can be trusted to pick books by reputable authors, and they will be sure to put the dirty bits in! American historians are strongly iconoclastic–that’s why they don’t write textbooks for grade schools.

I rocked in history, but our poor catholic
( redundant, I know) school had outdated history books and we never made it to Vietnam. It was too old to be recent news and to new to be in the history books. All I learned about Vietnam is from the movies. Much like my sex education.

I haven’t read it, but I’ve read the world history book by the same author so I would recommend “Legends, Lies and Cherished Myths of American History”.

Most of those history books are written by white men. Kinda biased aren’t they?

If it’s anything like his “Legends, Lies, and Cherished Myths of World History”, don’t buy it. I read it and it’s full of so many errors, it qualifies as historical fiction.

You would prefer perhaps Eskimos?

Really? I figured some of the stuff was hard to believe but it did have some really interesting views. For example the dark ages not being that dark and so on. But what mistakes were in it?

Try working your way through some Barbara Tuchman.
For a different slant try ‘I Love Paul Revere Whether He Rode Or Not’ In my opinion, better than the above mentioned similer books.

I also recommend Made in America by Bill Bryson. It’s about the history of American English but includes quite a lot of information about U.S. history in general.

A subscribtion to “American Heritage” would be a good idea if you (like me) don’t have the patience to slog through most books.