“The problem in America isn’t so much what people don’t know; the problem is what people think they know that just ain’t so.” —Thomas E. Woods
Most Americans trust that their history professors and high school teachers will give students honest and accurate information. The Politically Incorrect Guide to American Historymakes it quite clear that liberal professors have misinformed our children for generations.
Professor Thomas E. Woods, Jr. takes on the most controversial moments of American history and exposes how history books are merely a series of clichés drafted by academics who are heavily biased against God, democracy, patriotism, capitalism and most American family values.
Woods reveals the truth behind many of today's prominent myths....
MYTH:The First Amendment prohibits school prayer
MYTH: The New Deal created great prosperity
MYTH:What the Supreme Court says, goes
From the real American “revolutionaries” to the reality of labor unions, The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History is all you need for the truth about America—objective and unvarnished.
Thomas E. Woods, Jr., is a senior fellow of the Mises Institute and host of The Tom Woods Show, which releases a new episode every weekday. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard and his master’s, M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Columbia University. Woods has appeared on CNBC, MSNBC, FOX News Channel, FOX Business Network, C-SPAN, and Bloomberg Television, among other outlets, and has been a guest on hundreds of radio programs, including National Public Radio, the Dennis Miller Show, the Michael Reagan Show, the Dennis Prager Show, and the Michael Medved Show.
Woods is the author of twelve books, most recently Real Dissent: A Libertarian Sets Fire to the Index Card of Allowable Opinion, Rollback: Repealing Big Government Before the Coming Fiscal Collapse and Nullification: How to Resist Federal Tyranny in the 21st Century.
Woods also co-hosts a weekly podcast with economist Bob Murphy called Contra Krugman that teaches economics by responding to the New York Times column written by Paul Krugman.
He is also the founder of Liberty Classroom, which teaches you the history and economics you didn't learn in public school; and in 2016 Woods started The Happy Earner, which seeks to help others become successful online entrepreneurs by using the same strategies that Woods has used since 2010.
You could shorten the title to simply "incorrect."
Usually the words politically incorrect announce someone who is proud of having gone against the grain. Thomas E. Woods is here to show us that a person can be unusually proud of committing all the sins he purports to denounce.
Woods' aim is to correct the cherished myths of American History that are advanced (without evidence!) by Liberals/Political correctness/people who disagree with Woods. The problem is in order to do this, Woods does exactly the same thing.
If you're going to point out the inadequacies of the established historical narrative, you might want to put some time in research. Woods' bizarre characterization of the Civil War as a justifiable assertion of States rights to nullify Federal law is Exhibit A.
Any treatment of the Civil War that sidesteps or dismisses (as Woods does) the topic of slavery is so clearly ignorant of the facts as to be a farce. You could argue that there was a State's rights dispute - but the chief right the southern states wanted was the right to own people. Don't believe me? Okay, but you'd have to ignore the Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia, and Texasdeclarations of Secession - for starters. It would be fair to argue that there were more issues than slavery but to dismiss it?! No serious scholar could do that.
Woods might be tired of slavery dwarfing all other discussions but that does not give him license to artificially add weight to factors he's more interested in.
If this was the only misstep in Woods' book, it would be fatally flawed. Sadly, there are many more.
To be true in Woods' eyes all a theory needs is to be out of favor with the people he dislikes. There are certainly sacred cows in academia and theories that have gaps, inaccuracies or out and out fraud (J. Ellis, I'm looking at you...) but Woods doesn't bother to tear these down with facts. He's sure he's right - and so he just screams out his message - adding volume instead of clarity.
In denouncing the cherished myths of academia he creates his own mythology. Those who embrace that mythology may enjoy the book, but they will have learned nothing.
Finally an easy way to display my ignorance and political extremism to friends! If you want to waste your time and money than this book is for you. This book has the same level of truth and scholarship as the crazy, ranting homeless man you cross the street to avoid but without the personality. Woods' book pays homage to the worst extremism of the right wingers and libertarians. Not content to destroy the present, Woods' books is a hideous attempt to pervert the past and our understanding of American history. If you need a good laugh (or are an ignorant buffoon more intent on attacking liberals than learning about US history) than this book is for you.
This book was incredibly eye-opening. The D&C says we are to waste out our days bringing hidden things to light. This book helps you to do that. The author goes through the span of U.S. history, from the Pilgrims to Bill Clinton, exposing what the popular myths are. So I learned the following:
-the Native Americans were not the first American environmentalists -the revolutionary war was was more of a return to common law rights of Englishmen rather than a rebellion -the Civil War wasn't really about slavery -secession of the southern states wasn't treason; they were just exercising the right that New York, Rhode Island and Virginia had stipulated when they ratified the Constitution. This was the right that they could withdraw from the union if they ever felt the new government became oppressive -Lincoln wanted to send black Americans to Africa -in his fourth debate with Douglas, Lincoln said that he did not, nor did he ever, want to bring about equality between the white and black races -Andrew Johnson was mistreated by the Radical Republicans of Congress, he was basically "framed" or set up to do something dubiously unconstitutional, so that his political enemies in Congress could then impeach him -the 14th amendment wasn't properly ratified -Wilson did not hold Britian and Germany to the same standards of neutrality in regards to their warships before the U.S. entered the war, which is part of the reason why the U.S. ended up entering the war -Woodrow Wilson was seriously deluded -JFK's father (who made his fortune as a bootlegger) paid someone to write Profiles of Courage, and then bought tens of thousands of copies of the books and then stashed them in storage, so it would get bestseller status -JFK made a deal with the Mafia boss to buy votes so he could win the presidency. He philandered with a girlfriend who was also the mistress of this Mafia boss -FDR wanted to fight a war with Japan and goaded them into it -FDR was chummy with Stalin and thought that Stalin would work with him to create a world of "democracy and peace." He agreed to "give" Poland to Stalin but told Stalin not to publicize it because he didn't want to lose the Polish vote in the next presidential election -the Marshall Plan did not help Europe to recover economically after WWII, free markets did -after WWII, Russian POWs in the U.S. were tear-gassed at Ft. Dix and sent back to the Soviet Union, after they had begged not be sent back there and after USG officials "promised" that they would allow them to stay here (Operation Keelhaul) -many Communists existed in the U.S. -a guy who won the Pulitzer prize for reporting that there was no famine in the Ukraine during Stalin's reign actually lied. (There was a massive famine.) When someone asked the Pulitzer prize committee to revoke his honor, they refused -a historian who was liberal and socialist changed his ways and returned to his boyhood Catholicism -Lyndon Johnson stole his senate win -LBJ's war on poverty actually made it worse -under Clinton's reign U.S. troops were sent to more wars in the world total than in all the other presidencies combined -Clinton probably bombed a pharmaceutical plant in Mogadishu to detract attention from his Lewinsky scandal
The concept behind this book is great. There are a slew of historical facts that are so vastly over-simplified when you are a kid in history class that they end up effectively being lies. Many history books and teachers also present complicated constitutional issues as if they are simple, with of course the history teacher's view presented as the one "true" view. The problem with this book is that Woods does these exact same things, but he seems to think it's somehow better because he's coming from the conservative angle instead of the liberal. He has some great facts in here, but they are polluted by the fact that he is a conservative idealogue first and a historian second.
The best example I can think of is comparing his chapter on Reagan and the greed of the 80s to his chapter on Clinton. Die-hard Clintonistas like to ignore anything bad about the guy, and Woods' Clinton chapter is an amusing attack that brings up some of the lesser-known bad things about Clinton. But while Republicans tend to be just as ridiculous about Reagan, his chapter on Reagan and the 80s is just a straight-up love-fest. The intellectually honest and "politically incorrect" thing to do is bring up the bad things that people on both sides of the fence ignore about their own icons, not slam one and raise the other as a Saint.
Another great example of his oversimplification of the facts and presentation of his view as "historical fact" is his comment on Michael Milken. Woods goes on a rant about the greed of the 80s, states repeatedly that Milken was "not guilty of any crime," and argues that Milken was convicted on six petty charges - what Woods refers to as "technicalities." In fact, Milken pled guilty to six securities felonies and the Judge in his case stated, "You were willing to commit only crimes that were unlikely to be detected... When a man of your power in the financial world... repeatedly conspires to violate, and violates, securities and tax business in order to achieve more power and wealth for himself... a significant prison term is required." Apparently this history professor at Ludwig von Mises Institute believes he understands securities laws and the criminal code better than the judge who was actually presiding over the case. Milken's story is a politically charged one, and the prosecutors in that case did a number of very questionable things, but Milken's story is a complicated web and to present the opinion that "Milken was not guilty of any crime" as if it's a historical fact is ludicrous.
Similarly, Woods goes after the religious freedom argument and carries his strict constructionist viewpoint as if it's the only way to go. His section on the Constitution is basically: Here's a quote from one or two of the founding fathers, so that's all the Constitution means, and all the attorneys, law professors, and judges in the world who disagree with me are wrong. This area of the law is far more complicated than that, and legal scholars have disagreed for decades over both a) how locked down we need to be to the original words of the founders and b) what exactly the two religion clauses mean. Woods clearly doesn't get that, which is understandable as he's not an attorney or a judge, and he is completely unqualified to be presenting his oversimplified view of the Constitution as if it is the only true position.
Finally, his whole discussion of the South is so defensive that when I was reading it, I immediately guessed he lived in the South, and went to look it up. Not only was I right (he lives in Alabama), he was present at the founding of the League of the South and has contributed to its newsletter. The League of the South is a Southern nationalist organization that promotes the "independence of the Southern people" from the "American empire," sees opposition to its promotion of the Confederate flag as "cultural genocide." After seeing him spend an entire chapter devoted essentially to downplaying the effect of slavery and trying to defend the Confederacy, somehow I'm not surprised.
I wish this book had been written by someone with a critical eye towards both sides of the aisle. As it is, it's a book with a few fantastic little-known facts hidden in a mess of political propaganda and excuses for the Confederacy, slavery, and Native American exploitation.
History is written by the winners looking upon the past through rose colored glasses.
This book negates the tint.
It has some of the well known "open secrets" like Jefferson fathered his slave babies and Kennedy had affairs and used ghost writers, but he mostly fills the book with the effects of well intentioned programs--there's less integration in school districts with forced bussing programs that were meant to diversify the schools, the reasons behind certain decisions (why the founding fathers preferred a solid constitution rather than England's "living document") and excerpts of speeches that don't place the speaker in a good light--Honest Abe thought blacks should never be jurors, never be allowed to vote, could never be equal, and should always be inferior to whites. Lincoln also looked into deporting all blacks immediately following the war.
Also in the book are chapters about blatant lying and cheating and vote stealing that were thought to have taken place but were never proven until up to 50 years later.
The part I found most fascinating was where Woods corrects the general misconceptions I was taught about "The Civil War/War for Southern Independence/War of Northern Aggression": The Civil War wasn't a civil war both in terms of the political end game and the way in which it was waged. Civil wars consist of two factions trying to take control of the one government, not one government trying to tell 13 other governments they can't leave the voluntary union. General Sherman stated that according to what he learned at Westpoint, he'd be hung for the atrocities he'd committed for the North. The war wasn't about slavery. Union General (and President and slave owner) Ulysses S. Grant said that if he thought the war was about slavery, he'd resign his commission and give his sword to the Confederates.
I started listening to this in an attempt to have balanced opinions and education about American history. Unfortunately, this is not really a history book. It is conservative propaganda, and as such, leaves out huge parts of the story. Most of the book may very well be fact, but it is fact in the same way that negative political ads are. It presents select examples as proof that a much broader generalization is truth. For example, since some Native American tribes benefited in the short term from trade with the colonists, the prevailing view of early Americans as genocidal swindlers must be false. It is this distortion of truth that stopped me from categorizing this as either fiction or nonfiction.
In addition to this appalling bastardization of the very idea of history, the writing is also unnecessarily divisive. There are sections called "Books You Aren't Supposed to Read" that are usually published by Regnery, an admittedly biased conservative publisher. This invention of an authority that is trying to keep Conservative Truths from people is clear political propaganda.
Similar to his treatment of fact in general is Woods' treatment of the founding fathers. He repeatedly gives a straw man view of a liberal political stance, then refuted it with one or two quotes from founders. His simplified clumping together of the founders (who argued constantly about the way the new country should be run) behind one-sentence soundbites ignores the complexity of constitutional interpretation and political discourse in general.
It is not the conservative slant or positions that I take issue with. It is the fact that they are not acknowledged by the publisher. On the Regnery website, it claims that the book presents the "truth about America–objective and unvarnished." It is the shameless lying that I have a problem with.
This book, while unpopular in more liberal-minded circles, provides a lot of insight into some of the more significant events in our Nation's history that are often overlooked in most of our high school history books. The book describes how far our Nation has fallen from what it was originally intended to be. For me, at least, this is a very discouraging reality. I am an admirer of what the Founders originally put forth into this country via the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. However, many people find that they are of little use in today's Western 21st century 'modern' society. Regardless of how you feel on the matter, the reality is that the farther this Nation has fallen from the founding principles, the worse our condition has become. So, my review is simply this; I enjoyed this book because it emphasized valid and factual examples of how we have fallen. I don't believe the author was intentionally trying to be a 'downer', but he was intending to wave a caution flag in the air for those that are historically illiterate. I'd recommend this book to those, liberal or conservative, that desire to get a better understanding of how we are perpetually failing as a Nation.
In this book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History by Thomas E. Woods Jr., the author presents information showing that, although we have trusted that their history professors and high school teachers were giving students honest and accurate information it has become quite clear that liberal professors have misinformed our children for generations. The author takes on the most controversial moments of American history and exposes how history books are drafted by academics who are heavily biased against God, democracy, patriotism, capitalism and most American family values. He reveals the truth behind many of today's prominent myths including: The First Amendment prohibits school prayer; The New Deal created great prosperity; What the Supreme Court says, goes. With this book Professor Woods attempts set the record straight on these and other issues related to American history that have been misrepresented by liberal professors today. The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History is all you need for the truth about America—objective and unvarnished. As Mark Twain famously said: “What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so.”
There is only one portion of the title that accurately describes this book, the word "incorrect". This fantasy is driven by an agenda. An agenda to discredit scholarly research and facts... facts that dare to contradict a Right-wing political ideology. So, no problem, Wood makes history fit his world-view. Facts are not and never will be, partisan. Sometimes they agree with you, sometimes they don't. But weaving them into a fantasy to sell to gullible FOX, Beck, Rush and Paulits - by a professional is reprehensible. Woods should have to relinquish his chair and credentials for this mendacious travesty.
Inside, you learn that the American "revolutionaries" were actually conservatives. Puritans and other colonists mostly didn't steal Indian lands or engage in genocidal ...acts against them. The first section heading is called "Suspicion+Dislike=Liberty. A formula for freedom." All the chapter titles are actually pretty irritating.
Later on it gets into Confederate apologetics, justifying religious tyranny as long as it's done by the states and not the federal government. He seems to love focusing on petty, relatively minor injustices that appeal to the Right, while ignoring more massive injustices more appealing to the Left. The book may be largely (though CERTAINLY not completely) correct in it's facts, but it's selection and representation are highly distorted.
For an "Anarchist" he sure cares a lot about states rights and nullification (hes damn near obsessed with it). He is a political libertarian, but not at all a cultural libertarian. He is essentially a member of the Old Right that has an abstract belief that the state sorta shouldn't exist in the very long term.
Another enjoyable book by Tom Woods. This really is the "history you SHOULD have learned in school" book. He starts from the beginning of the first European settlers and goes right into the Reagan/Clinton era. Probably the most that I learned was the section on World War I. It is very interesting how war hungry some of the Presidents were and how vocal they were about it. The fact that Woods uses a lot of quotes shows that these aren't just conclusions drawn from connecting dots but letting the actors of history speak for themselves. That's probably the biggest strength of the book throughout. Although there are, at times, conclusions and some assumptions it is balanced with clear moments of history that are there in the open. It's just not clear why you didn't learn about this in school. I also enjoyed the reading suggestions at the end of each chapter. Final Grade - A
The crucial thing to remember when reading this book is that it is not written or intended as an alternate history of America. Reading it that way will lead to major misconceptions. Instead, it’s a work of corrective history; to delineate (some of) those issues that standard history texts misconstrue or ignore.
Thus the fact that he doesn’t pay much notice to, say, the fact that slavery was a major reason for Southern secession should not be read as disagreement with this commonly held belief. He only mentions things he thinks are wrong; if he doesn’t mention something, it’s probably safe to assume he has no particular bone to pick with the establishment view on that subject.
With that reader’s caveat out of the way, this is an interesting, entertaining, and readable book. It is definitely biased, and reads as such, but although the tone is partisan, and some of his implications are questionable, he takes care to get his facts right.
An example: I’ve recently been reading up on the Black Hawk Down episode in Somalia. When I first read Woods’ account of this event, I thought he had come to a questionable conclusion: American soldiers needlessly died due to the refusal of Clinton’s Secretary of Defense to authorise additional armaments. Many people have claimed this, but Black Hawk Down makes it clear that it is very unlikely that granting the request would have done any good. However, when I reread that passage, I saw that Woods was careful: He notes that the request was turned down, and that the Americans had to borrow armor from other countries, and that eighteen American soldiers died; but he never draws a cause-and-effect relationship between these things. He leaves that as an implication for the reader. So if you’re willing to put up with this sort of rhetoric, where the facts are accurate but the implications may not be, there’s a lot of value to be gleaned out of this work.
My biggest issue with this book is the lack of citations. Sure, there’s a long bibliography in the back, but it’s simply a list of works the author thinks the reader might find valuable. It’s useful for further study from a similar perspective as the author’s, but useless as a means to check the author’s claims. Often he will mention a source inline with the text, and that’s great, but there are still many claims left unsourced. I realize that in a breezy, popular work such as this one, having a bunch of footnotes would be awkward and slow things down, but that wouldn’t preclude having endnotes keyed to page number, which I’ve seen other works (like the aforementioned Black Hawk Down) do. The lack of supporting references makes the book far less useful than it could be as intellectual ammunition.
The information itself is pretty good, and, as I said, generally interesting. Certainly the book is written from a libertarian/conservative point of view, but since nearly all history is written from a Progressive viewpoint (whether admitted or not), this work serves as a useful counterpoint, which is its intended purpose.
Overall, I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in learning salient information you’ve never been taught about American history; just be careful not to be led astray by the author’s omissions or implications.
The lack of notes in the P.I.G. books (Politically Incorrect Guides) that I've read so far is frustrating. They offer quite a different perspective which I imagine could be just as biased as the leanings in other books the claim to debunk.
I offer as example a 19th century soundbite taken completely out of context to support the portrait of a innocent, peaceful Confederacy. Page 87 Woods writes,
"Johnson argued that Radical Reconstruction showed such contempt for law and precedent that it proved the Southern secessionists' point at the time they withdrew from the Union: that their constitutional liberties would not be secure under the administration elected in 1860. He said:
'Those who advocated the right of secession alleged in their own justification that we had no regard for law and that their rights of property, life, and liberty would not be safe under the Constitution as administered by us. If we now verify their assertion, we prove that they were in truth and in fact fighting for their liberty, and instead of branding their leaders with the dishonoring name of traitors against a righteous and legal government we elevate them in history to the rank of self-sacrificing patriots, consecrate them to the admiration of the world, and place them by the side of Washington, Hampden, and Sidney. '
QUITE an interesting quote from a standing president following the civil war, uncited, I looked this up: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pi... , finding that our little history book left out this little tidbit he said right after; "No; let us leave them to the infamy they deserve, punish them as they should be punished, according to law, and take upon ourselves no share of the odium which they should bear alone."
This is a preemptive write up (most likely all that will be offered) since I am only at page 87 but just wanted to jump at this opportunity since I am at my computer with some spare time
This book is an awesome read for those of you who don't believe everything you heard in the 8th grade. Spanning the early settlements on the American Continent, this book shatters some commonly held myths perpetuated by our current indoctrination centers and even most college courses. Thomas Woods holds a degree in History from Harvard and makes good use of his vast knowledge on the subject in this book, often sighting books "you;re not supposed to read" as great examples. My favorite thing about economics is the facts often defy popular opinion, and they are counter-intuitive most of the time. If you are like me and take a skeptical look at most subjects, this book is for you! One of my favorite examples from the books is where Woods lampoons the idea that monopolies and "predatory pricing" somehow lead to poor conditions to consumers. In his example, Woods details the case of DOW Chemical company and how their German, cartelized, competitors threatened to flood the US market with cheap chemicals if DOW didn't cease his operations in Europe. In classic American free market defiance, DOW went right ahead and carved a major market share from the cartel in Europe. His competitors started to flood the American market using predatory pricing (ie selling your product at a loss to drive you competition out of business) to which DOW responded by buying up their lower priced product through secret purchasers and re-sold their own product back to the Europeans at half his own cost. BRILLIANT! Anyway, that is just one story of many that you'll find in this book. I couldn't put it down!!!
I thought the idea behind the book would be great, however, it was a battle just to finish the book. The biggest problem I have is that the author does what he is accusing everyone else of doing. essentially saying that this is correct because he says so, and with just a little bit of looking into information there is a bunch that does not fit the facts of the events.
Additionally the author seems to reverse his own opinion on what what has helped and harmed the country and economy throughout history.
I also took issue to the authors portrayals of Thomas Jefferson, and Ayn Rand ideas of society as the best possible ideas, and solutions to be worked for to form a stronger country.
This book was total garbage. I had to put it down after a few chapters because I could literally feel myself becoming more bigoted.
If you can get past Native American's agreeing to give away the land they lived on for no profit, even though they couldn't speak English or Spanish in the 1300's and 1400's, you've got a tougher stomach than I.
Maybe I didn't give it enough of a chance, but I really didn't think ethically I could.
I had a very bad experience with the first title I read in the 22-book Politically Incorrect Guide (PIG) series, each by a different author. Anthony Esolen’s The PIG to Western Civilization was insufferably preachy and abandoned any pretense of objectivity when it came to topics relating to Christianity.
Thomas Woods book in this series, on American History, was much, much better.
Although this book covers many major events in American history from the colonial period through 2000, it is not a completely comprehensive overview. Instead, it assumes a baseline historical knowledge that most American will possess and focuses on countering what politically-correct historians have gotten wrong. The major points are nicely highlighted at the introduction to each of the 18 chapters, so it should be easily possible to skim this book (I didn’t) and only dive deeper into topics that surprise or interest the reader. The book is well researched and Woods does a good job of making the case for all of his arguments.
As a result, I plan on reading more books in the PIG series, but I repeat my strong advice to avoid Esolen’s lone entry in the series (or anything else by him).
First off, please don’t use this book as a source for a history class. Your professor will read the title and ding you for using an unreliable source, like what happened to me. Other than that, mostly good history book that doesn’t push to indoctrinate the reader with a liberal agenda. That being said, the author obviously comes from a more conservative viewpoint but be aware that he also is biased and so there may be some slight inaccuracies.
I am listening to this book on CD. It's interesting in a way. There are valuable tidbits and quotes.
The author seems to have an axe to grind and a political agenda. I feel that the book is a bit argumentative.
For example, the author is really big on the right to bear arms. This is difficult to take in this era of school shootings. He brings evidence to support his view. It feels a bit like the debate club with one side reporting. One feels like someone else could bring an opposing viewpoint with an equal number of validating quotes and tidbits.
He does shed light on some of our misconceptions about American history. Some of what he says is actually true. Still, the way he says things like "books you're not supposed to read" and the "PC" version...it's a bit annoying.
This book is libertarian propaganda. Everything it supposedly reveals is merely a extremely biased look at established history. Sure there are nuanced and complex events in history that the most widely accepted versions are controversial. There's no dispute with that. I can't help but wonder if this guy wasn't given a set of conclusions and asked to write a broad American history text to support them. Any reputable scholar will at least admit the validity of a viewpoint other than their own. I am so glad the money I paid for this book went to support Goodwill Industries and not into this poor academic's coffers.
This is a nice alternative to your typical history textbook, but I can't quite bring myself to rate it higher than three stars. There's a lot of great information here, but trying to distill the entire history of the U.S.A. down to three hundred pages is a problematic endeavor no matter how you slice it. Still, Woods' perspective gave me a different take on a lot of things, such as the startling degree to which Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt were responsible for escalating World Wars I and II. Definitely a controversial book, as Woods takes on a lot of sacred cows here.