A review of Thomas Ayres’s That’s not in my American History Book: A compilation of little known events and forgotten heroes (2000)
(Rating 4 of 5)
Historical revisionism is an often misunderstood term. There are two versions of it one positive, one negative. The positive version of historical revisionism is when we come across new information that forces historians to adjust our model on the past to compensate for the new information. A good example would be if an ancient city, like Pompeii, was found and excavated our understanding of life in that ancient culture to which that city belong would not only increase but it might be radically altered. Historians would have to update what we knew of said culture.
The negative version is intense political motivated ‘research’ created by either the far left or the far right to make history coincided with their political views. A modern example of this would be ‘tea’ party members of Texas Board of Education trying to write Thomas Jefferson out of history books and declare that the Founders tried to establish a religious state.
Ayres reminds us that there can be a third version of revision called humor, and it is remarkably effective. Throughout the book he takes time to explain myths about figures such as Washington, Paul Revere, and Betsy Ross. After talking about the myth he then explains why the myth became popular in the first place. This is a great book that I highly recommend.