What We’re Reading

Where Nebraska Center for the Book board members share their thoughts about the books they are reading. This month’s review is by Richard Miller.

Review of Myth America: Historians Take on the Biggest Legends and Lies About Our Past, edited by Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer.

This book, through original and secondary research, attempts to tackle a variety of historical issues in the U.S. that have dogged us for many years — by showing when current views of these issues are not in keeping with fact. The editors, who are both professors at Princeton University, have assembled a lineup of distinguished historians who discuss issues as diverse as American exceptionalism, immigration, American socialism, the New Deal, Confederate monuments, the Great Society, insurrection, the Reagan Revolution, and many others. While some may consider this collection to be left-of-center, the chapter writers provide solid facts to support their conclusions.

Here is one example of the findings on the topic of “voter fraud,” a topic much on the minds of many: “‘Nearly half of Americans believe voter fraud happens at least somewhat often, and 70 percent think it happens at least occasionally . . .'” [ABC News/Washington Post 2016 poll]. But a 2014 study by a Loyola law professor found that, “from 2000 to 2014, out of one billion votes cast in elections in the United States, there were only thirty-one cases of voter-impersonation fraud.”

This title is worth reading. After all, who can resist a book with the opening dedication: “To the archivists, librarians, teachers, and fellow historians who give us a better, and more accurate, understanding of our nation’s past”?

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