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Old January 3rd, 2017, 11:34 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Sam-Nary View Post
You do realize that "A Patriot's History of the United States" is JUST as guilty of bias as Zinn's book, just on the other side?
I would not go that far at all. I have both books sitting next to each other on my shelf.
I'm not saying Zinn's book is of no value but for one to begin with Zinn is to be asking for socialist indoctrination.

Western civilization is bad, blah blah blah. There, I saved you a few hours.
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Old January 3rd, 2017, 12:22 PM   #12

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I bought a great book some years ago, in paperback "Don't know much about history". It shafts most of the silly self-gratification myths of US history and is very readable and amusing.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51Ha%2BZgquiL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg


https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0061960543/ref=rdr_ext_tmb
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Old January 4th, 2017, 11:30 AM   #13

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I don't know one that would constitute a book for 'beginners', but the best American history I've read is Howard Zinn's 'People's History of the United States'.

He takes the perspective of oppressed people's throughout the book, to give the reader a look at America's real history.

Many modern books will likely be somewhat unbiased like this, but it's often hard to find histories that don't glaze over the really shitty stuff.

If you want to know what really happened, this is your book.
Zinn is really biased. Read what he has to say about WWII, for example--a chapter I chose at random from the pdf.

A People's War?

In short, the US can do little good in the world, and any good it does has to be balanced with a litany of all the evils.

The US is not perfect, but it is whole lot better than Zinn portrays it.
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Old January 4th, 2017, 12:41 PM   #14

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On the OP's question, while I don't know of any one book that would do justice to US history, I am currently reading McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom, which is the Oxford History of the US volume on the US Civil War. I've read a lot about the Civil War, and McPherson's is a really good history of the period (beginning in 1848) so it provides enough background to understand the War and the issues--and it covers the glories and warts on both sides. If you decide to read it, you will also need a good map of the US (or a book of maps on the Civil War).

The Civil War was probably the key event in US history.
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Old January 4th, 2017, 01:51 PM   #15

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I would suggest googling 'project gutenburg' log in and use their search feature for 'american history'. Most of the books most likely will be old school texts or written for the so teen market. Any old title will probably be just want you want.
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Old February 1st, 2017, 06:11 PM   #16

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Let's move away from ideology where possible here. Zinn is definitely worth taking a look at, but it isn't the best decision to read him alone. Depending on how good your English is, and how devoted you are to reading American history, Eric Foner's Give Me Liberty! is as good as textbooks come. It must be mentioned, however, that this is a university textbook (although geared towards first year students). If you are capable, I recommend starting there. I have not read A Patriot's History of the United States, so I cannot weigh in on that matter.

For a third partisan perspective, you could look at A Renegade History of the United States by Thaddeus Russell, where he argues that American history is defined by those who live on the margins of society.
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Old February 4th, 2017, 07:16 AM   #17
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Foner is a Marxist.
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Old February 4th, 2017, 10:12 AM   #18

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The Oxford History of the American People, (1965) Morrison, Samuel Eliot. Morrison is an excellent writer and historian. He is particularly good with materials having to do with maritime affairs. At over 2000 pages this book manages to encompass American History without putting a lay reader to sleep. It is NOT a definitive American History, though only specialists in the subject are likely to demand more detail. The book has all the bibliography, Indexes, notes, etc. that we expect of a proper history.

Even so, this a "gateway" to American History study. The subject is far too large to cram into a single volume and sub-topics, like the History of Mexico are peripheral to this book. If you can only have one history of the American People, this probably should be it.
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Old May 4th, 2017, 12:34 PM   #19
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The Oxford History of the American People, (1965) Morrison, Samuel Eliot. Morrison is an excellent writer and historian. He is particularly good with materials having to do with maritime affairs. At over 2000 pages this book manages to encompass American History without putting a lay reader to sleep. It is NOT a definitive American History, though only specialists in the subject are likely to demand more detail. The book has all the bibliography, Indexes, notes, etc. that we expect of a proper history.

Even so, this a "gateway" to American History study. The subject is far too large to cram into a single volume and sub-topics, like the History of Mexico are peripheral to this book. If you can only have one history of the American People, this probably should be it.
Take this advice.

Use the bibliography to drill deeper into only the subjects you like.
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Old May 20th, 2017, 06:47 PM   #20
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Hello everyone,

In my country, education on history is not of good quality. There is nearly nothing about American History in curriculum. Since the US is the superpower of the world, I thought to read about it first. But I couldn't find what I looked for. Could you recommend some books ?
Except for three suggestions, I think you are getting some bad advice so far. What you need to know is that, with some exceptions, before about 1960 American history was very triumphalist, was rapped up in "great man" narratives and was prone to racial and ethnic bias (Morrison). Then came a period of about 20 years called "Revisionism" where it went to the opposite extreme (Zinn). Since the 1980s (generally called "post-Revisonism") a balance has been struck. That balance, along with historians have far more evidence and better methodologiess, has produced the best American history ever written. I suggest only buying book written since 1980 until you become very familiar with historiographical (The history of the history) issues.

That said, and since I'm guessing you didn't get any American history in school in Turkey, you might want to start with a recent high school textbook. I haven't read Foner's that was suggested, but its probably good as he is a top American historian (and ignore the ignorant comment about him being a Marxist, he isn't). But you can download two other popular high school textbooks in pdf format from the web right here, American Pageant and The American Spirit Vol I and Vol II.

I'll also say the Wikipedia idea was pretty good and you might want to make use of documentaries and lectures on youtube. For instance, here is a 6 part, 5 hour documentary on the U.S. Revolution.

No one volume book is going to cover the whole of American history adequately. I wouldn't waste my time on one. There are a few ways to tackle it, overviews of eras, taken chronologically, is a good way to start. After you finish one of the high school textbooks, a good first book on the colonial era is Alan Taylor's American Colonies is very good.

David mentioned James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom. It is one of a multi volume series called The Oxford History of the United States. They are all good, most are excellent. They cover between 20 and 40 year segments of American history in an average of 900 pages each. They are listed on this website as well as some other books that are good to start with on various subjects of American history.

Last edited by Jax Historian; May 20th, 2017 at 06:50 PM.
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