Sunday, August 8, 2010

I'm Impressed With This Textbook

I didn't have any say over the textbook that College of Western Idaho picked for U.S. History--but wow!  I'm thrilled with it.  James L. Roark, Michael P. Johnson, Patricia Cline Cohen, Sarah Stage, Alan Lawson, and Susan M. Hartmann, The American Promise: A History of the United States, 4th ed. 

Both the textbook, and the Instructor's Manual, show the kind of careful, non-inflammatory discussion of sensitive topics that reflect current scholarship in such areas as Indian diversity, the myth of the noble savage, the complexity of European and Indian relations, and the nature of slavery.  The Instructor's Manual is full of sections that address particular common misconceptions that students are likely to have--and useful and diplomatic ways to get students to understand the complexity of history.

The ACLU probably won't like the discussion of the role of religion in early America, which includes many of the same points that I make here.   And yes, while they never mention Bellesiles' name, or Arming America, they are clearly discussing it on pp. 216-17.  I am a bit disappointed at their careful avoidance of admitting that Arming America was fraud--but they do make it clear that Arming America's claims were clearly and unmistakeably wrong.

I would say that if you are home schooling, and you have a smart high school kid--or maybe a very smart junior high student--this is a pretty decent choice.


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  2. I'm reading James W. Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me, and it sounds like Promise is a good effort to remedy many of the problems Loewen's identifies, without falling into the "America = Bad" trap. Your use of the words "complex" and "complexity" are especially promising.

    I'd like to have a good general history of the US, and Promise sounds like a good bet.

    Accuracy and fairness aside, is it readable, in the sense of being able to sit in my chair or in bed and

    I notice on Amazon there's a "Compact" edition available, also in two volumes. Do you have any idea what the full version has the compact version doesn't? It's only $53 instead of $70; a substantial savings.

  3. Yes, very readable. Lots of nice illustrations as well.