Is there a conservative counterpart to Zinn's "People's History"?

If I were a high-school history teacher (which I’m sure I never will be – inadequate combat skills), I would want to use at least three texts, just to give my students a balanced view:

  1. Some kind of unobjectionable mainstream crap like The American Pageant: A History of the Republic, by Thomas Bailey and David Kennedy (Houghton Mifflin, 2001).

  2. Something left-progressive like Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present (Perennial Classics 2003). Or perhaps Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, by James W. Loewen (Touchstone, 1996).

  3. Something conservative – but what? I’ve read Paul Johnson’s A History of the American People (Perennial, 1999), but it’s just too, well, thick. No student would finish it. Is there anything like this that would be appropriate for use at the high-school level?

Nobody knows?

If there is some real reason you need the info, I can probably find out something. However, this requires real effort on my part (far more than Googling!), and will probably take several days to a week or more to get responses from my informants. So if it’s idle curiosity, you’re stuck with whatever you can get from the company here assembled.

A right-wing book and a left-wing book would not work, unless they were written together to act as counterparts, because they would both raise different issues that would not be addressed by one another. It would just lead to confusion and probably bickering. Just stick with the bland one and try to be as balanced as you can be.
Or just go with the right-wing one since it is probably the correct interpritation. :smiley:

Well, i’m not sure that “right wing” is exactly the way to describe the books i’m going to suggest, but you might look at some of the general histories of America published during the 1950s and early 1960s. This was a period that some historians now refer to as the era of “consensus” history, a period without ideology (to borrow from Cold War liberals like Daniel Bell).

Perhaps the best-known work of general American history from the period is the three-volume set entitled The Americans by Daniel Boorstin. While this might not correctly be termed “right wing” in modern parlance, it was certainly the sort of history that Howard Zinn was trying to counterbalance when he wrote his People’s History of the United States. Boorstin’s work is a relentlessly optimistic view of American progress, one that sees the nation’s development as little more than a series of triumphs of civilization. About the only blot on Boorstin’s American landscape is the one that no American historian can avoid–slavery. But plenty of other problematic and controversial issues are simply glossed over or ignored.

Agreed. If, as a high school student, that I was now required to take care of, not lose, and worst of all, lug back and forth to class three thick, annoying texts… I would want to kill you. I would advise against it, no matter your combat skills. Also, your being unfair to force your students to read a particular event three times. There’s plenty of history out there right now to avoid having to go through it three times.

If you want to introduce some critical thinking, give out hand outs of some sort, maybe a contemporary analysis of a particular event that could still be useful today. Like ethnocentric descriptions of two sides in a war, from both sides.

I agree that it’s probably unrealistic to expect your students to get through three textbooks. It probably would be a good excercize to choose one or two events, then go through the different historians’ approach to each, but to do it the entire year is difficult if you plan on covering much ground.

Are not confusion and bickering essential to the educational process?

Good one – but that would be even thicker than Johnson’s History of the American People. I’m trying to think of something that is not significantly longer than Zinn’s People’s History – which itself is only slightly longer than The American Pageant.

Hey, I took plenty of high-school courses that used more than one book! Of course, that was a private school.

It’s idle curiosity. Don’t go to any trouble.

To cover American history, and specifically American political history, I’d recommend two: The Glorious Burden : The History of the Presidency and Presidential Elections from George Washington to James Earl Carter, Jr. by Stefan Lorant, and the Dictionary of American Politics by William Safire.

The Lorant book ostensibly covers the elections and terms served by the various presidents. It is not particularly right or left wing, but because it covers the issues which were important to the country when each president was elected it is perhaps the most comprehensive history of the United States I’ve ever seen. Safire (nominally a conservative) has created a witty and comprehensive collection of the language of political insiders, both current and historical.

I ran across these books after I graduated from college with a BA in political science, and honestly think I learned more from them than from the dozen or two classes I took on American politics in four years. Both highly recommended.

Off topic question, but I wonder what this author had against President Carter? Why did he use a form of his name that Carter greatly disliked, and even filed lawsuits in some states to force them to list him as “Jimmy Carter” opn the ballot rather than “James Earl Carter”?

Dis he list the 22nd & 24th President as Stephan G. Cleveland?

If I recall correctly, the lawsuits were to allow him to be shown on the ballot under the name that everyone knew him by, rather than the more formal designation which might be confusing to voters (especially those in Palm Beach :slight_smile: ). I never heard that he didn’t like his legal name.

I guess I’ve never heard him say that explicity, either. But I thought it was obvious from the fact that he never uses that name for himself, he always uses “Jimmy Carter”.

His Christmas cards are signed “Jimmy”. I think he even used “Jimmy Carter” when signing legislation sent to him by Congress. Clearly, that’s the name he prefers.

So I’m still wondering why this author called him by a different name.

Oh, I don’t know, perhaps because it’s his name?

Seriously, I don’t know the answer to your question… I’ve heard Carter referred to both ways, so I’ve never thought much about it in this context.

Still highly recommend the book, however.