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Tue Nov 27, 2012, 09:58 PM

 

History is boring...Oliver Stone's "The Untold History of the United States" is antidote

American history! Whose heart doesn't race when you remember being initiated into its excitement and mystery in high school? There's the Logan Act of 1799! And the presidency of Benjamin Harrison! And the Open Door Policy. And, uh, and the Fordney–McCumber Tariff of 1922...and "A Return to Normalcy"... and the Federal Aid Highway Aczzzzzzzzzzzzzptsphttzzzz.

Almost everyone in high school hates history, and they should. Just 7% of U.S. students say history is their favorite subject, and considering how schools grind American history into mush, it's amazing the number's that high. It's like 7% said their favorite food is unflavored semolina.

Schools accomplish this with one simple technique: leaving out every single thing about U.S. history that's interesting. In high school history classes there's never been any conflict in America – and no one filled with greed, or hate, or lust for power. In other words, no recognizable human beings. Everyone always wanted the best for everybody in the best of all possible worlds. It's been 236 years of interchangeable robots singing "America the Beautiful." It's obvious why schools have to do this – real history is dangerous. If the people in charge 50 years ago were horribly flawed, students might consider the possibility that the ones in charge now are too....

That's why you're not going to see a glowing review of Oliver Stone's new book and 10-part Showtime series, The Untold History of the United States, in the New York Times anytime soon. It's just too interesting...

http://www.tinyrevolution.com/mt/archives/003643.html

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:19 PM

1. I trust Oliver Stone as a historian not a whit.

I admired his movie "JFK" until I made this mistake of listening to the director's commentary. It was pretty incredible how this man could lambast all sorts of people for not being truthful with one breath, and then shamelessly admit to changing historical events or inventing something out of whole-cloth "for the sake of storytelling" in the next. He came off as so sanctimonious and shallow that I've had trouble watching the movie ever since.

Hell of a filmmaker and storyteller, at least on a good day. But I'm not going to watch a historical documentary by the guy.

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Response to Bicoastal (Reply #1)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:36 PM

2. i wouldn't trust him either. but i would still watch the show if it was available to me.

 

i don't trust the guy who made "The Civil War" (forgot his name, also did baseball, dust bowl, etc).

Because his histories are also selective pictures. And typically ones I won't learn much of anything new from, or much that sparks my thinking.

Whereas oliver stone is likely to bring up something i've never heard of that i can research further when the show is over. Maybe it will turn out to be BS; maybe not.

I've learned things even from terrible, racist, fascist sources.

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Response to Bicoastal (Reply #1)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:47 PM

4. What about Peter Kuznick PhD, Associate Professor of American History at American University, and

director of the Nuclear Studies Institute?

He seems pretty legit to me and he cowrote the show with Oliver Stone?

For the record, I share your criticisms of Oliver Stone's historical accuracy in the past, but recently he's been working with some pretty knowledgable people--first Tariq Ali and Mark Weisbot, now Kuznick.

I haven't seen any groundbreaking or new revelations on his show, but it seems like solid history to me.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:43 PM

3. James Loewen's excellent book "Lies My Teacher Told Me" is all about this very topic

and a good read

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 10:57 PM

5. History is much more exciting if you make it up!

Oliver Stone is the left-wing counterpart to Fox "News", and about as reliable.

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 11:00 PM

6. Respectfully disagree, strongly.

I can remember the first history lesson taught to my 1st grade class, more than half a century ago. In fact, I have discussed how it led me to have an appreciation for history in numerous lectures at schools, colleges, and universities, and have written about it in newspapers and books.

The Stone series is pretty good.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #6)

Tue Nov 27, 2012, 11:05 PM

7. i think history is pretty interesting. but most of the interesting stuff i learned on my own.

 

only a couple of my history teachers stood out enough for me even to remember them. one in HS, one in college.

but then, my HS/college mind wasn't attuned to such things at the time either.

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