Revisionist History

Dec 2019
7
WA, USA
My First Post

I joined this forum, in search of (fact based) resources on American history. I'm not fond of the way our schools are filled with revisionist historians who want to rewrite America's history. I have no confidence our schools (in America) will teach my grandchildren an accurate account of the birth and life of America. I want to build a library of books that tell the true history of America. NOT some PC version

I believe history is unchanging. History is cast in concrete, the second after an event occurs. That history is the same, whether it's 1 min old or 1000 years old. History is an account of what happened. It is an ongoing phenomena. It places no real burden on future observers. I am no more responsible or supportive of what happened in the past, than future people are for what happens today. It is what it is.

I do acknowledge that there can be errors in a historical account. I acknowledge that there can be judgement errors thar require pointing them out. I do not believe we should ever try to erase and rewrite history.

For better or worse, we learn from history. If we allow history to be revised, we are destroying a valuable resource for grandchildren.

When I see people tearing down our monuments, I have a vision of what the Taliban did in Afghanistan. Blowing up 500 year old statues, that can never be replaced. This is nothing short of trying to erase our past and rewrite an alternate version of what actually happened.

I would like to start acquiring some of the best accounts of the birth of America, before they are forbidden to possess. That way my grandchildren have a chance of knowing the truth. Yes, I do believe there is a segment of society that would ban many of our historical records, if given the chance.
 
Jul 2019
1,125
New Jersey
Samuel Eliot Morison's Oxford History of the United States. Very readable and engaging - and written before the counter culture messed everything up.

Edit: You can download a free PDF of the book here (I didn't think it was in the public domain, but archive.org doesn't do illegal stuff...).
 
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johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
8,018
Cornwall
You might want to search this as I think there was a fairly lengthy thread debate on it back along.

Looking at older (European) history - archeology and the unearthing of foreign-language documents can shed more light and alter things we'd believed. This is adding to history and making it more accurate.

But I know what you mean about revisionism in general.
 
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dreamregent

Ad Honorem
Feb 2013
4,410
Coastal Florida
I joined this forum, in search of (fact based) resources on American history.

What's your idea of a fact-based resource?

I'm not fond of the way our schools are filled with revisionist historians who want to rewrite America's history. I have no confidence our schools (in America) will teach my grandchildren an accurate account of the birth and life of America. I want to build a library of books that tell the true history of America. NOT some PC version

What is this revisionist history that's being taught? My parents said the same thing when I was in school during the '80s and '90s. However, there wasn't time for much more than a generally undisputed list of facts and figures about history when I was in school. Today, I understand that schools have even less time budgeted for a deep dive into history. It was really at home and in my social circle, under the influence of strong political bias, where I was taught revisionist history. It wasn't until I began studying primary sources on my own as an adult, something no one else in my family had ever really done, that I realized the extent of my indoctrination. In my view, you're better off teaching your grandchildren how to be skeptical critical thinkers who can ably assess the bias and credibility of their sources.

For better or worse, we learn from history. If we allow history to be revised, we are destroying a valuable resource for grandchildren.

When I see people tearing down our monuments, I have a vision of what the Taliban did in Afghanistan. Blowing up 500 year old statues, that can never be replaced. This is nothing short of trying to erase our past and rewrite an alternate version of what actually happened.

Sometimes, monuments are actually examples of revisionist history themselves. When I was a young child, I lived in a rural county in southwest Georgia with a small town at its center. This small town had a central square with a Confederate monument. My family taught me that monument was put there to commemorate our noble southern heritage. Much later, I learned that monument was probably paid for and erected by a private organization of sociopolitical activists like the Daughters of the Confederacy and I researched the reasons why they erected monuments like this all over the place. From reading their own historical records, I learned they largely intended to use these monuments as vehicles to inculcate future generations with an ideology known as the Lost Cause agenda, which is basically a set of big fat lies. When I think of these particular monuments, I have visions of China or the USSR indoctrinating their citizens with a rosy view of communism. Nevertheless, I don't think they should be destroyed. Rather, I think it's better to present them in their proper historical context, as examples of political propaganda and not as mere tokens of remembrance like they're often claimed to be.

I would like to start acquiring some of the best accounts of the birth of America, before they are forbidden to possess. That way my grandchildren have a chance of knowing the truth. Yes, I do believe there is a segment of society that would ban many of our historical records, if given the chance.

There's nothing to fear. Luckily, we have something called the internet. When the mob gets around to throwing Farrand's Records and the Federalist Papers in the fire, we'll still have electronic copies.
 
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Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
6,544
Portugal
I believe history is unchanging. History is cast in concrete, the second after an event occurs.
[…]
I do acknowledge that there can be errors in a historical account. I acknowledge that there can be judgement errors thar require pointing them out.
Welcome to Historum!

I must say that some parts of this post, the quoted parts, seem to have some inherent contradictions. Well, history also have its contradictions!

I understand what you mean, after all the word “revisionism” gained in the last decades a quite strong negative, even pejorative connotation.

Don’t know if it begun with the holocaust deniers, but surely gained momentum with them.

But History, as any other Social Science, as any Science, is a revisionist (take here the word for its face value, not for its Media meaning) area of knowledge.

If we detect errors, that you already assumed that they exist, those errors must be revisited, and corrected if possible. That doesn’t mean to delete everything, but add the corrections. And history changes, just take a quick look to the historiography… it is not difficult to see that the way some events were looked changed in the centuries and in the millenniums. The “object” of study is the same, but the way we look to it is different.

“Revisionism” in history (take here the word again for its face value, not for its Media meaning) allowed us to develop our knowledge of the past, and we can claim that today we know more and we have tools to know more about our history, that previously.

On the other hand “Revisionism” (in its Media/Net meaning) is mostly para-history and pseudo-history, without rigour, without historical methodology, often without intellectual honesty.

Unfortunately, as in other words, the meaning of the second his conquering the meaning of the first. So, again, I understand what you mean.
 

Peter Graham

Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
2,694
Westmorland
I joined this forum, in search of (fact based) resources on American history. I'm not fond of the way our schools are filled with revisionist historians who want to rewrite America's history. I have no confidence our schools (in America) will teach my grandchildren an accurate account of the birth and life of America. I want to build a library of books that tell the true history of America. NOT some PC version

I believe history is unchanging. History is cast in concrete, the second after an event occurs. That history is the same, whether it's 1 min old or 1000 years old. History is an account of what happened. It is an ongoing phenomena. It places no real burden on future observers. I am no more responsible or supportive of what happened in the past, than future people are for what happens today. It is what it is.
I think you are conflating fact and interpretation, which is a major mistake.

That an event happened might be set in stone, but why it happened and the ramifications of it are are matters of interpretation.

I don't think even 'revisionists' try and deny the actuality of an event. For example, no-one disputes that the Battle of Waterloo took place in 1815. There is a fact to pass down to your grandchildren.

Unfortunately, the simple fact doesn't get us very far. "But Grandpa" say the little ones, "who fought at Waterloo.? Why was it fought? What did the allied victory mean for the socio-political situation in early modern Europe? What did Napoleon or Wellington think about it all. What did the soldiers think about it all? What did everyone else think about it all?"

Grandpa can answer at least the first of these questions factually, provided he has access to a list of the various regiments there on the day. But most of the answers are not so certain and depend largely on the world view of the person who you ask the question of. A Marxist historian will give you a very different answer to a social historian. Or to a military historian.

So what does Grandpa do? He doesn't like 'PC', which (in the way the term is usually used on this forum) means he doesn't want anything which is anti-colonial, anti-imperial or which bangs on too much about women or non-white ethnic groups. But Grandpa is no fool and he knows that if he gets the answers to the questions from the books circulating in his own youth, he'll be passing on answers which might be imperialistic, nationalistic, racialist (as opposed to racist) and/or constructed solely from a male viewpoint.

In other words, the interpretations of Grandpa's youth were every bit as biased and conditioned by the moral and social preoccupations of the day as the modern slew of 'PC' works are. It's only ever going to be Grandpa's opinion that what professional academics said about Waterloo in the 1950s is more accurate than what they say about it now. It's often only confirmation bias that makes Grandpa instinctively feel that interpretation A is heavyweight and clearly valid whilst interpretation B can be written off as liberal, politically correct poppycock. "Of course historian X says that Wellington was a reactionary monarchist - out of touch lefties like him hate Britain/France/insert and should all go and live in Russia/North Korea/Mars if they think socialism/communism/not agreeing with me is so great".
 
Jan 2012
492
South Midlands in Merlin's Isle of Gramarye
History is a record of what was written down now and again by people trying to interpret what had been going on sometime previously. It is a reflection of cultural mores prevailing at the time they wrote. It is open to comment and reassessment at any time. There is no concrete history.

Once upon a time the stories of King Arthur were deemed true. Now we know they are a romance, but it didn't stop the monks at Glastonbury digging up his grave.

My favourite experience with history was reading letters my six times great-grandfather wrote as a steward to a major ducal house in the middle of the eighteenth century. He was looking after someone's property, doing his best to serve their interests whilst showing a concern for the other people who worked for them. I did the same thing in my life with similar values. I can't describe the pleasure it gave me as after almost 300 years we were the same people. What is more it was only ten miles away from where I had come to live, more by accident than design. Have no fear, all will be well.

When I was a young man my father ordered me to read two books `1984' and `Animal Farm' by George Orwell. I did as I was asked but it was the consequences that flowed from reading them that taught me more than the books. I met the man who helped Orwell escape from Spain, I met some of his contemporaries and then discovered, too late that my father had also met him on a number of occasions. In his instruction he was telling me as much about himself, his values and outlook. You don't need concrete, just show your children how to think for themselves. Take courage.
 

royal744

Ad Honoris
Jul 2013
10,981
San Antonio, Tx
History is a record of what was written down now and again by people trying to interpret what had been going on sometime previously. It is a reflection of cultural mores prevailing at the time they wrote. It is open to comment and reassessment at any time. There is no concrete history.

Once upon a time the stories of King Arthur were deemed true. Now we know they are a romance, but it didn't stop the monks at Glastonbury digging up his grave.

My favourite experience with history was reading letters my six times great-grandfather wrote as a steward to a major ducal house in the middle of the eighteenth century. He was looking after someone's property, doing his best to serve their interests whilst showing a concern for the other people who worked for them. I did the same thing in my life with similar values. I can't describe the pleasure it gave me as after almost 300 years we were the same people. What is more it was only ten miles away from where I had come to live, more by accident than design. Have no fear, all will be well.

When I was a young man my father ordered me to read two books `1984' and `Animal Farm' by George Orwell. I did as I was asked but it was the consequences that flowed from reading them that taught me more than the books. I met the man who helped Orwell escape from Spain, I met some of his contemporaries and then discovered, too late that my father had also met him on a number of occasions. In his instruction he was telling me as much about himself, his values and outlook. You don't need concrete, just show your children how to think for themselves. Take courage.
Thank you for this: most illuminating.