Home  |   Jihad Watch  |   Horowitz  |   Archive  |   Columnists  |     DHFC  |  Store  |   Contact  |   Links  |   Search Tuesday, July 17, 2018
FrontPageMag Article
Write Comment View Comments Printable Article Email Article
Take That, Howard Zinn! By: Dan Flynn
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, June 07, 2005

You can purchase A Patriot's History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen for $29.95 from the FrontPage Magazine Bookstore.

What contemporary history of America highlights that just one in fifteen Africans brought to the New World was enslaved in the United States? Or that as Standard Oil’s market share rose to a monopoly level prices dropped substantially? Or that Franklin Roosevelt once proposed a 99.5 percent tax on income over $100,000?

No recent American history challenges the conventional wisdom of academics as aggressively as Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen’s A Patriot’s History of the United States: From Columbus’s Great Discovery to the War on Terror.   


Schweikart and Allen’s A Patriot’s History of the United States’s intentional contrast with arch-leftist Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States affects more than just their book’s title.


Whereas A People’s History characterizes the American Founding as “the most effective system of national control devised in modern times,” A Patriot’s History points out that “No nation in existence at the time had elected leaders.”  


Zinn lambastes nineteenth-century railroad “robber barons” looting the public treasury, while Schweikart and Allen tell the “other side of the story,” which is “that hundreds of local train lines and two transcontinentals—the Great Northern and the Milwaukee Railroad—were funded and built purely with private capital.”


Zinn praises the “dynamic new leader, Mikhail Gorbachev,” and castigates “the continued hard line of the United States [that] became an obstacle to further liberalization.” Schweikart and Allen see Ronald Reagan “in no small degree responsible” for the Iron Curtain’s collapse. They write: “Lauded as a sophisticated and sensible reformer, Gorbachev differed little from any of his three dead predecessors, except that they were dead communists and he was still breathing.”


The divide in perspectives from the competing texts takes on Rashomon-like proportions in the accounts of World War II.


“Racism was clearly at work,” World War II veteran Zinn believes of the American public’s hostility to the Japanese.  Schweikart and Allen describe racism at work too, but of the kind ignored by Zinn. “Almost five times as many Anglo-American POWs died in Japanese hands as in Nazi camps, which reflected almost benign treatment in comparison to what Chinese and other Asians received at the hands of the Japanese.” According to A People’s History, “Japan, by August 1945, was in desperate shape and ready to surrender.” A Patriot’s History points out: “The Japanese government reacted [to Hiroshima] by calling in its own top atomic scientist, Dr. Yoshio Nishina, inquiring whether Japan could make such a weapon in a short period. Clearly, this was not the response of a ‘defeated’ nation seeking an end to hostilities.” Whereas Zinn sees a nation ready for peace, Schweikart and Allen note the 0.3 percent surrender rate at Tarawa and Japanese civilians who preferred drowning themselves at Saipon to tasting defeat.


The two books write of the same events, yet tell a dramatically different story. They cannot both be right. Contrasting titles aside, A Patriot’s History of the United States is superficially a reaction to the Zinnification of U.S. history but substantively an attempt to return to the tradition of Daniel Boorstin, Samuel Eliot Morison, and other, less adversarial chroniclers of the American past.


At its best, A Patriot’s History offers a thoughtful affirmation—rather than the anti-intellectual, knee-jerk rejection common among their fellow academics—of the culture, traditions, history, and accomplishments of the United States of America. At its worst, A Patriot’s History of the United States is too much “patriot” and not enough “history.” This is especially true when the book turns from history to current events, where the duo exhibit a more polemical tone.


Regarding the war in Iraq, the authors discuss Hussein’s “WMDs,” which “posed a particularly dangerous threat to American security because they could be easily brought into the United States by terrorists.” Even the president now admits he was mistaken in his belief in Iraqi WMDs. The authors reference a 2001 meeting between an Iraqi intelligence officer and 9/11 terrorist Mohammed Atta in Prague, citing Czech sources. However, Czech officials now say they aren’t certain the meeting took place. The American secretary of defense refuses to vouch for the story’s accuracy; the FBI and CIA looked into the claim and found nothing to corroborate it and much to doubt it; and the 9/11 Commission concluded the “available evidence does not support the original Czech report.” The authors write that George W. Bush built by March 19, 2003, “a larger alliance of nations than his father had in 1991.” Yet, on March 19, 2003, the U.S. initiated combat alongside two nations—the UK and Australia—with token military support coming from a few additional countries that together supplied less than 1,000 troops; twelve years earlier, the U.S. and troops from more than 30 nations went to war. Other nations, including Japan and even Switzerland, helped bankroll the operation, sparing U.S. taxpayers all but a tiny fraction of the cost. What “larger alliance”?


Even readers who agree with Schweikart and Allen’s conclusions on the Iraq war know that they don’t need to be shielded from facts that rub them, and the authors, the wrong way.


Then again, the only 900+ page history book that one can wholly agree with is the 900+ page history book that one writes himself.


American history has taken a beating by American institutions of late. The 1990s witnessed the government-funded National Standards for United States History highlight the Ku Klux Klan (19 mentions), but downplay George Washington (one mention), Thomas Edison (zero mentions), and the Wright Brothers (zero mentions). The Smithsonian’s well publicized (and pulled) Enola Gay exhibit preceded numerous less publicized exhibits that have been every bit as anti-American. Films bashing American heroes (The Reagans, The Alamo) or mocking American culture (American Beauty, Wall Street) have been in vogue for decades. New Orleans removed the name of slaveholder George Washington from a school; Berkeley and points beyond have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.


A corrective to all of this is long overdue. A Patriot’s History of the United States, where have you been?


Daniel J. Flynn is the author of Why the Left Hates America and of the new book Intellectual Morons : How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas. Visit his site at www.flynnfiles.com.


You can purchase A Patriot's History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen for $29.95 from the FrontPage Magazine Bookstore.

We have implemented a new commenting system. To use it you must login/register with disqus. Registering is simple and can be done while posting this comment itself. Please contact gzenone [at] horowitzfreedomcenter.org if you have any difficulties.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Home | Blog | Horowitz | Archives | Columnists | Search | Store | Links | CSPC | Contact | Advertise with Us | Privacy Policy

Copyright©2007 FrontPageMagazine.com