Customer Review

9 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unbalanced, 28 Jun 2013
This review is from: The Untold History of the United States (Paperback)
After reading this, you will be under the impression that the USA is the most imperial, greedy, downright evil country in world history. To Stone and Kuznick, maybe it is.
The book isn't a complete ''untold history'' because it starts with World War 1, and a common theme through out the first 500 of 615 pages (excluding acknowledgements and notes) is an empathy bordering on support for anything related to the Soviet Union. Josef Stalin was let down by America after 1945 apparently, all he wanted was a long lasting post-war peace, but rabid anti-communists in the White House and American 'imperialism' prevented it. The brutal Soviet post war occupations of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Poland and what was to become East Germany barely warrant a mention. The Stalin ordered murder in 1940 of almost 22,000 Polish Army officers and others deemed anti-communist merits a single sentence.
The chapter on the Korean war is particularly egregious. According to Kuznick and Stone, Communist, Soviet backed North Korea invaded South Korea because the USA had provided economic aid to Japan and because Stalin thought a ''South Korean attack on the North was coming.'' Evidence for this isn't given. 38% of American prisoners in North Korea died, Stone and Kuznick quote a report putting this down to some sort of softness on the part of the POW'S.
By the time the September 2001 attacks on New York are summed up in a single paragraph as attacks on ''the premier symbols of US imperial power'' any hopes of a reasoned account of the last 90 years of American history had long since vanished.
A book endorsed by Mikhail Gorbachev raised my suspicions that this may not be the most balanced book i've ever read, the reality of it was far worse than that. Purchase with caution!
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Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 23 Jul 2013 10:25:36 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Jul 2013 10:29:01 BDT
"After reading this, you will be under the impression that the USA is the most imperial, greedy, downright evil country in world history". I think the majority of intelligent people all over the world more or less agree with this statement, especially if Britain is added, because that's where US started. It seems they know more than most Americans do, since they are indoctrinated with the "truth" perhaps? Stone highlights issues that has been ignored or downplayed in other works. That he does the same with facts that are already over-reported in all other works by short referential mention is good, it proves his point! By turning the cards, the opponents get a taste of the same medicine.
All atrocities that are going on in other countries today, have and have had their equals or have been surpassed by the USA/Britain over the decades. In fact, they have used USA politics and historical "conquest" as an excuse, most obvious now in South America. As Herman Göring did during the Nuremberg Process: he claimed that the Nazis just followed the US extermination obsession against Native Americans, when they initiated Holocaust. The poor judge, an American, could not answer, was silent. (This portion has been taken away from the official report, I have heard, but refound). Hard to swallow, but there it is! Can you please name one country that is worse? I can't, but I am sure you think you can: that is part of the evil, maybe... Reconciliation and progress starts by accepting facts, especially historical ones, which is the only way to continue, to avoid repeating the evils. Oliver Stone, thanks for your important work.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jul 2013 19:34:02 BDT
ben woods says:
What an insulting statement. Forget Soviet starvation of more than 3 million Ukranians, forced labour, deportation and imprisonment of tens of millions of their own people, or the shooting of 22,000 Poles around Katyn forest, we all know it's America where the real evil lies.
I see it in the mindless 5 star ratings of this book, seemingly purely for the anti-American stance it takes, the right-on, anti-capitalist quotes of multi-millionaire Oliver Stone, and thoughtless comparisons to Nazi Germany made by people like you. South Koreans in the 1950's were grateful to American and British servicemen for fighting back a Northern invasion, East Germans who managed to escape from the ''Democratic Republic'' of East Germany were ecstatic at escaping communist oppression on entering West Germany too.
Oliver Stone hasn't produced an important work, he and his co-author have written a biased, far left, pro Soviet propaganda piece.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Jul 2013 00:35:29 BDT
Thanks Ben Wood, for your reply. I am not surprised at your reaction, I can understand it. There has always been evil in the world, obviously, and a competition of who is worst/best will always be useless, as long as nothing is done to improve. I know that Stalin was at least as evil as Hitler, but he was and is still seen more as a hero, because too few people in Russia are aware of his atrocities and massacres, they are belied or downplayed American style. Likewise Mao in China now has less support as a historical figure than ever before. Why I hit US, is because in many ways, and in some good ways, of course, it is the leading nation in the world, and it goes without saying that it has to be ready for critic, not by ignoring or demonising it, but by real evaluation. Why are US Americans so angry when they are criticised for the right reasons, don't you wish to improve? Do you really think you have a perfect society, when school children kill each other with guns, and with a weapon lobby mafia to increase the possibilities for that? If this isn't outright evil, then what is? Maybe they should start in Kindergarten, to be sure they learned American violence obsession properly and early enough?
I remember shortly after 11. Sept 2000 I read in TIME, I believe, a reader's comment. It was a call for contemplation and evaluation to see what in American attitude, politics, action, led to such vehement reactions. But later all this drowned in rhetoric of revenge that became more and more absurd and dangerous. The comparison with Nazi Germany is not thoughtless, but perfectly relevant. Hitler, inspired by American racism and Stalin killed some tens of millions both in war, massacres and extermination camps. But some of the American Indian "reserves" became just that, concentrations camps. An estimate shows that Immigrants to America from Europe killed, in war, by starvation and outright exterminations, supported by the US Government and similar powers some 250 millions, dwarfing even the two abovementioned mass murderers by far. (If you wish some enlightenment on this topic, there is a TV series called "How the West was Lost"). Dealing with such facts, and taking some responsibility, that is what more Americans ought to do, not deny or hide. I am not anti-American, I am really concerned and worried, because the implications of wrongdoings in the US, has severe influence for the rest of the world, so please see this as harsh, but ultimately helpful and friendly critic.

Posted on 22 Aug 2013 10:52:47 BDT
history fan says:
Regarding Eastern Europe, the authors deal with the fact Churchill did a deal with Stalin on spheres of influence, reproducing the handwritten document showing how they divided up eastern Europe in an unofficial agreement. The book also details how with the death of President Roosevelt, the understanding with Stalin art Yalta was then challenged robustly and in a dangerous careless manner changed by Truman at Potsdam and subsequently, it is in this light and the reneging on the carefully cultivated relationship by Roosevelt that developments in Korea should be contextualised. This is a point of view made very strongly in the book. You leave out this important view in your criticism. Also the authors of the book make no apology for the fact that it is unbalanced in the sense that it is about the wrongs of US policy and that readers should refer to other works for the good that is or has been done. Your dislike for Gorbachev is ridiculous though. the man single handedly worked for new approach to world affairs amongst the great powers that would have benefits for all not just the Russian people. Unfortunately you totally ignore this and the subsequent poor treatment the Russian people had at the hands of Sachsonomics and the brutal shock treatment meted out to the Russian economy and people in the 90s. Frankly your criticisms are weak and are a poor response in this light. No apology is made for the Soviet Unions war crimes and numerous crimes against its people and other countries in the book, so you'd do well to tackle the main points rather than as I suspect argue from a ideological based viewpoint as can be best summed up in the old cold war slogan 'better dead than red'.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Sep 2013 18:38:59 BDT
ben woods says:
No apology is made for Soviet war crimes because no mention is made of them to begin with. Eastern Europe was completely Bolshevised after 1945. Harry Truman didn't do anything about it.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Sep 2013 22:32:38 BDT
The book is called 'The Untold History of the United States' so expecting the authors to qualify each example of appalling US behaviour with 'However, to be fair, the Soviet Union did XYZ' seems a bit unreasonable.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Oct 2013 17:39:15 BDT
ben woods says:
The problem is that painting a one-sided picture of the cold war isn't an 'Untold History of the United States', it's a whitewash. Readers of this book are told a horribly biased story. That isn't proper History.

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Oct 2013 18:34:54 BDT
Last edited by the author on 16 Oct 2013 18:35:50 BDT
Jon says:
this take on US history is somewhat unusual; certainly sufficiently so to justify the 'Untold History' tag. Most people with a real interest in history, regardless of their own political views and affiliations, should and would welcome alternatives to the more usual largely consensual conventional wisdom output.
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