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Education Reporter

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The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, Thomas E. Woods, Regnery Publishing Inc., 2004, 246 pp., $19.95.

The typical American student leaves high school (or college, as the case may be) with a head full of misconceptions about American history: the success of entrepreneurs like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller was founded on exploitation of the poor; FDR's New Deal pulled America out of the Great Depression; Senator Joe McCarthy's claims that Communist sympathizers had infiltrated the State Department were largely unfounded. This book is a corrective to the biased and inaccurate information often found in school textbooks.

In addition to covering the basics, Woods reveals a number of lesser-known fallacies. One chapter demonstrates that certain laws enacted as a result of the civil rights movement have had unfortunate consequences for blacks and whites alike. For instance, Brown v. Board of Education, the case that declared segregated facilities inherently inferior, led to the disastrous practice of forced busing. At one time the average bused child in Los Angeles spent almost two hours a day on a bus. Both black and white parents came to criticize the practice, and the result has been that sufficiently affluent people (primarily white) have moved or transferred their children to private schools - thereby causing the very segregation that Brown meant to do away with in the first place. While this is old news to most readers of the Education Reporter, it is not obvious to today's generation of students.

One of the best chapters is entitled "Yes, Communist sympathizers really existed." While liberals long denied the existence of Communists in the U.S. government, liberal writer Nicholas von Hoffman finally admitted in 1996 that two generations of students have been falsely taught about the '40s and '50s. In Hoffman's words, new evidence such as the Venona files proves that "Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, executed in June 1953 for atomic espionage, were guilty; Alger Hiss, a darling of the establishment, was guilty; and dozens of lesser known persons . whose innocence of the accusations made against them had been a tenet of leftist faith for decades, were traitors, or, at the least, ideological vassals of a foreign power."

This feisty work devotes too much space to revisionist theories about the Civil War. However, it makes a lively counterweight to the liberal bias prevalent in most history textbooks.

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