What Not To Read This Summer

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 22 2012 @ 1:29pm

The History News Network recently asked their members to vote on "the least credible history book in print." The winner, narrowly edging out Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, was Christianist hack David Barton's The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You've Always Believed About Thomas JeffersonHNN points to this comment about Barton's book from Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter, who wrote an e-book to refute him:

Barton misrepresents and distorts a host of Jefferson's ideas and actions, particularly his views and practices regarding religion, slavery and church-state relations. As Jefferson did with the Gospels, Barton chooses what he likes about Jefferson and leaves out the rest to create a result more in line with his ideology.

Jennifer Schuessler ponders Zinn's second-place finish:

Mr. Zinn’s Marxist-inflected account of American history provoked the most impassioned debate in the site’s comments section, with some commenters dismissing it as "absolutely atrocious agit-prop" and others praising it as a flawed but necessary corrective to the overly heroic stories that prevail in many classrooms.

David Kaiser, a professor of military history at the Naval War College, charged "A People’s History" — which has sold more than two million copies since its initial publication in 1980 — with damaging the country, "By convincing several generations of Americans that leadership does not matter and that all beneficial change comes from the bottom," he wrote, "it has played a significant role in the destruction of American liberalism."