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Don't Know Much about American History Paperback – Apr 2003


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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers; 1 edition (April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064408361
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060840563
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.4 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 473,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Don't Know Much about American History The bestselling debut in Davis's acclaimed and fun Don't Know About series, which delivered a fresh new take on history with humor and great stories, has been revised and rewritten just for kids. Illustrations. Full description

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 12 Dec. 1998
Format: Paperback
Kenneth Davis should be thanked for writing such a readable popular overview of US History. Reading this book is quite easy and entertaining. A book of this type, by definition will omit some peoples favorite topics and will also be weak at explaining all the views presented. Because this is the nature of the beast, so to say, it would hardly be fair to mark the book down for this. Unfortunately this is not the book's only problem. I am not a history expert, but I noticed that Mr. Davis misattributed Nixon's quote, "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore" to the Kennedy election. Nixon actually said this two years later. Some other reviewers have noticed a few other errors. Unfortunately this error is still in the 1995 Revised Trade Printing, 5 years after it was originally written. I originally read this book a year ago and recently reread the beginning because I am a bit shaky with Ante Bellum US History. Davis writes, "My intent is to refresh the shaky recollection or reshape the misconception with some simple answers". Unfortunately his refresher did not seem to provide the framework to stay in my mind. Since I do not normally have this problem, I question how well it works for others. Perhaps his question and answer format does not do justice to the narrative aspects of history. So overall, I find this book to be a quite entertaining read. As entertainment, this book deserves four or five stars. The factual errors and forgetable format lower rating significantly. If it reaches people and makes them want to find out more, great! I am afraid that this book _by itself_ will not help much with cultural literacy.
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By A Customer on 3 May 1999
Format: Paperback
I bought this book several years to help me prepare for the State Department's Foreign Service written exam. I was pretty confident in my knowledge of foreign affairs and European history, but less so about the events that had occurred right here in my own backyard for the past 200+ years. Well, it really helped! I particularly remember questions on the exam about the Monroe Doctrine, the Missouri Compromise, and Marbury v. Madison that I could not have answered had I not read this book. I passed the exam, which is one of the most draining tests I have ever taken. It's like a super-SAT for adults.
Recently, I picked up this book again and thumbed through it. My one criticism is Davis's "anti-Manifest Destiny" rhetoric, which is true, I suppose, of most modern historians, with the exception, perhaps, of the incomparable Stephen E. Ambrose. General George A. Custer described as "probably deranged" is pure hokum revisionism! It's straight out of "Little Big Man," the 1968 movie with Dustin Hoffman. Anyhow, that's my one beef in an otherwise fun and engaging read.
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By A Customer on 4 April 1999
Format: Audio CD
I bought this book several years to help me prepare for the State Department's Foreign Service written exam. I was pretty confident in my knowledge of foreign affairs and European history, but less so about the events that had occurred right here in my own backyard for the past 200+ years. Well, it really helped! I particularly remember questions on the exam about the Monroe Doctrine, the Missouri Compromise, and Marbury v. Madison that I could not have answered had I not read this book. I passed the exam, which is one of the most draining tests I have ever taken. It's like a super-SAT for adults.
Recently, I picked up this book again and thumbed through it. My one criticism is Davis's "anti-Manifest Destiny" rhetoric, which is true, I suppose, of most modern historians, with the exception, perhaps, of the incomparable Stephen E. Ambrose. General George A. Custer described as "probably deranged" is pure revisionism! Straight out of "Little Big Man," the 1968 movie with Dustin Hoffman. Anyhow, that's my one beef in an otherwise fun and engaging read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Jun. 1999
Format: Paperback
I hated history in highschool and especially in college but Davis makes learning about the obscure but familiar facts and phrases in American history easier to understand.I recommend this book to anyone who doesn't get most of the historical jokes that are sometimes thrown around by "History" majors at the water cooler.
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By A Customer on 7 Jan. 1999
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed Ken Davis' book on U.S. History. I read my daughters high school textbook which was filled with many interesting facts but little opinion. Ken Davis' approach as one can see certainly sparks debate since it is not simply a compilation of facts. If one's mind set is beyond politics as religion and "my country right or wrong", then this book will be an eye opener. I have long waited to read a book that would be honest about our political history. Our rose colored view of history doesn't include the ethnic cleansing of Native American from this land nor the profound social problems that we still face because of enslavement of Africans. At last Ken Davis is willing to hold this challenges up to the full light and suggest that we need to grapple with the sides of our history that we wish would simply go away.
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By A Customer on 7 Aug. 1999
Format: Audio CD
In an attempt to further educate myself, I picked up this book, and a few others, at a local store. I thorougly enjoyed it. It was exactly what I was looking for. There were major spots in history that I was completely oblivious to. I wanted to know what they were, but I didn't need to know every last detail. I just wanted a general understanding. This book delivers it. Another review of this book remarks how the author's opinion comes through. I agree. It comes through on many topics. However, I think it adds to the book. This isn't a text book. It's a history book that some guy wrote his own way. So what if his opinions come through? If I didn't want insight, I'd grab a high school text book.
Enjoy.
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