Journals Higher Education

$19.99

Paperback

10 October 1996

288 Pages

5-5/16 x 8 inches

ISBN: 9780195109726


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Not So!

Popular Myths About America From Columbus to Clinton

Paul F. Boller, Jr.

In sailing westward in 1492, did Columbus defy the prevailing belief that the Earth was flat? Was Thomas Paine an atheist? Was Truman plucked from obscurity to be FDR's running mate in 1944? Are presidential campaigns nowadays far dirtier than they were in the past? Is Hillary Clinton the most active or influential First Lady ever? Not so, says Paul Boller, in this delightfully informative look at some of the most common myths and misconceptions about the American past.
Here, Boller provides us with a cornucopia of historical correction, debunking myths that range from the trivial--for instance, George Washington did not have false teeth made of wood (they were made of ivory)--to the pernicious (FDR did not know in advance that the Japanese planned to bomb Pearl Harbor). We learn that most educated people in Columbus's day knew the world was round (it was Washington Irving who first portrayed Columbus as defying a coterie of flat-earthers); that Truman was far from an obscure politician in 1944 (he had been on the cover of Time in 1943 for his Senate work uncovering waste and fraud in the war industries); that presidential campaigns in the old days were more vituperative than recent ones; and that several First Ladies were more influential than Hillary Clinton, most notably Eleanor Roosevelt and Edith Wilson (the latter played a crucial role in her husband's administration from 1919 to 1921, after he suffered a massive stroke). Boller doesn't simply debunk each myth, but instead provides us with much fascinating history surrounding each case, so that the reader is treated to intriguing discussions of many singular episodes in American history, from the Kennedy assassination to Watergate.
For everyone who loves history--or the truth--Paul Boller has given us a candid and absorbing look at the American past that helps us get a good sense of where we have been and who we are as a people.

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