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ALTERNATIVE THINKING BOOKS > The Untold History of The United States

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message 1: by James, Group Founder (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments The Untold History of The United States is highly recommended reading.

The Untold History of The United States by Oliver Stone


message 2: by James, Group Founder (last edited Mar 20, 2016 12:33AM) (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments I recommend the TV series also.


message 3: by James, Group Founder (last edited Mar 20, 2016 12:34AM) (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments This book is now a group read "currently reading".

Here's the synopsis:

The companion to the Showtime documentary series, director Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznick challenge the prevailing orthodoxies of traditional history books in this thoroughly researched and rigorously analyzed look at the dark side of American history.

The notion of American exceptionalism, dating back to John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon aboard the Arbella, still warps Americans’ understanding of their nation’s role in the world. Most are loathe to admit that the United States has any imperial pretensions. But history tells a different story as filmmaker Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznick reveal in this riveting account of the rise and decline of the American empire.

Aided by the latest archival findings and recently declassified documents and building on the research of the world’s best scholars, Stone and Kuznick construct an often shocking but meticulously documented “People’s History of the American Empire” that offers startling context to the Bush-Cheney policies that put us at war in two Muslim countries and show us why the Obama administration has had such a difficult time cleaving a new path.

Stone and Kuznick will introduce readers to a pantheon of heroes and villains as they show not only how far the United States has drifted from its democratic traditions, but the powerful forces that have struggled to get us back on track.

The authors reveal that:
· The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were militarily unnecessary and morally indefensible.
· The United States, not the Soviet Union, bore the lion’s share of responsibility for perpetuating the Cold War.
· The U.S. love affair with right-wing dictators has gone as far as overthrowing elected leaders, arming and training murderous military officers, and forcing millions of people into poverty.
· U.S.-funded Islamist fundamentalists, who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan, have blown back to threaten the interests of the U.S. and its allies.
· U.S. presidents, especially in wartime, have frequently trampled on the constitution and international law.
· The United States has brandished nuclear threats repeatedly and come terrifyingly close to nuclear war.

American leaders often believe they are unbound by history, yet Stone and Kuznick argue that we must face our troubling history honestly and forthrightly in order to set a new course for the twenty-first century. Their conclusions will challenge even experts, but there is one question only readers can answer: Is it too late for America to change?


message 4: by Elisabet (new)

Elisabet Norris | 486 comments there's a newer edition out (2014) caked The Concise History of the United States )


message 5: by Elisabet (new)

Elisabet Norris | 486 comments *called.....damn it


message 6: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 1360 comments I think in fairness to Harry Truman, the use of nuclear bombs was valid. The case put before him was that a huge number of US servicemen would die in any conventional invasion. If I were a US soldier at the time, I would expect my government to do everything plausible to permit me to come home and live out the rest of my life. The bombs did bring about the end of the war.

On the other hand, I regard the fire bombing of Dresden a war crime. It had no military value whatsoever. Germany was finished, and this made no difference.

The Soviet Union was quite happy to have proper peace with the West, as long as there was a neutral zone between them, i.e. the US military stayed out of Poland and other eastern countries. As it happened, when the Warsaw pact fell, the US could not wait to put missiles on the borders as close to Moscow as was possible.

The other four points are probably true, but I don't have data. I do know, however, the USAF regularly flew fighter-bombers along the Warsaw Pact borders with live and armed nukes. An accident could well have happened.


message 7: by James, Group Founder (last edited Mar 20, 2016 08:07PM) (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments Ian wrote: "I think in fairness to Harry Truman, the use of nuclear bombs was valid. The case put before him was that a huge number of US servicemen would die in any conventional invasion. If I were a US soldier at the time, I would expect my government to do everything plausible to permit me to come home and live out the rest of my life. The bombs did bring about the end of the war...."

There's another school of thought there, Ian.
According to this lesser known (but becoming more subscribed to) assessment of history, Japan didn't actually view Hiroshima and Nagasaki as war-ending events, per say. Some historians (ones I tend to lean toward) have put forth the idea that to Japan the atomic bomb while extremely inhumane and devastating were just additional bombings in a long list of major cities that were completely or almost completely decimated including Tokyo and other cities. It's been mentioned by some researchers that as many civilians died in Japan and were left homeless from conventional bombing of other Japanese cities than compared to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Such historians instead suggest it was more the fact that advancing Soviets (who were only days away from entering Japan before the Japanese surrendered) that ended the war in the Pacific. US historian Peter Kuznick is one such commentator who as you can see in this video states the atomic bomb did not end the war with Japan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=macaR...

And such historians also say Truman and the US were fully aware this would not be enough to end the war (or that the war was already basically over due to the advancing Red Army) but the American military were determined to drop an atomic bomb at the end of the war to show America's might for the new world that would form post-WW2. In particular, show their might to the Soviets.

It's also worth noting that while the Japanese emperor did cite the bomb in one of his capitulation statements, he also mentioned the Russian arrival in the Japan-China region in numerous other speeches.

Lastly, I do wonder how Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be remembered by historians in say a 100 years time? Was the decision to drop the bomb and kill hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese civilians one of the worst crimes of the 20th Century? Or, was it a necessary evil to end the war and prevent more soldiers from dying? I guess it depends on whether we think a weakened Japan could've actually formed any sort of serious defense against the United States AND the Soviets...


message 8: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 1360 comments One of the problems with this sort of analysis is we can't really know what would have happened had something else happened. It may well have been that soldier's lives was an issue, but maybe not the predominant one. The argument that it was done to prepare for the cold war only makes sense if the US decided that was what it wanted. At the time, of course, the US had an almost fanatical hatred of communism. All one has to do is to recall McCarthyism to justify that comment. So, overall, we don't know.


message 9: by James, Group Founder (last edited Mar 20, 2016 08:18PM) (new)

James Morcan | 10911 comments Ian wrote: "One of the problems with this sort of analysis is we can't really know what would have happened had something else happened. It may well have been that soldier's lives was an issue, but maybe not the predominant one. The argument that it was done to prepare for the cold war only makes sense if the US decided that was what it wanted. At the time, of course, the US had an almost fanatical hatred of communism. All one has to do is to recall McCarthyism to justify that comment. So, overall, we don't know. ..."

Agreed - we do not know either way.
But what I'd say is interesting is that probably only 20 years ago if you brought up this alternative analysis of what ended the war in the Pacific, you would have been laughed at. Now, it's up for debate between mainstream historians.

I believe assessments of history change sometimes as we learn more about governments and the way elites rule this world. As distrust toward politicians and corporations grow, I think we as a society begin to consider more ruthless and less humanitarian versions of history - versions that don't always contain any "good guys"...


message 10: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 63 comments Ian wrote: "The other four points are probably true, but I don't have data. I do know, however, the USAF regularly flew fighter-bombers along the Warsaw Pact borders with live and armed nukes. An accident could well have happened. ..."

We almost had accidents here in the States.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1961_Go...


message 11: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 1360 comments Ouch! Nuking yourself is really really bad.


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