Ethan Allen -- His Life and Times by Willard Sterne Randall, Norton '11, $35, 617 pages, ASIN #0393076652. Index, bibliography, source notes, grouping of b&w glossy images.
Just in case you were wondering, the name Ethan Allen denotes much more than a furniture store. In historian Willard Sterne Randall's new book, he draws on previously unused source material to provide a complex portrait of this handsome, rebellious, libertarian, anti-slavery crusading soldier. Because of "only recently accessible databases," Randall is able to go further than any historian "in refining the Ethan Allen who has erroneously been branded a real life Robin Hood -- one who selflessly represented the needs of the struggling Grfeen Mountain settlers." In fact, Randall argues, "Allen used his political disposition to aggrandize and unabashedly so, the holdings of his own family...." Willard Sterne Randall has written 12 books and teaches history at Champlain College. His book won starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews.
So Rugged and Mountainous by Will Bagley, Overland West -- The Story of the Oregon and California Trails, Volume 1, Oklahoma UP '11, $45, 480 pages, ASIN #0806141034. Index, bibliography, footnotes, b&w images sprinkled through text.
After years of research he conducted for the National Park Service's Long Distance Trails Office, Will Bagley decided to weave "a wealth of primary sources -- personal letters and journals, government documents, newspaper reports, and folk accounts -- into a compelling narrative that reinterprets the first years of overland migration." The result is an elegant, oversized volume that attempts to chronicle America's westward migration, in which "almost a million eager fortune-hunters, pioneers, and visionaries transformed the face of a continent -- and displaced its previous inhabitants," largely Native Americans." Bagley's book is the first of a projected four-volume history. Will Bagley is author or editor of more than a dozen books on the American West.
Lies My Teacher Told Me --Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen, New Press '07, $26.95, 444 pages, ASIN #1595583262. Index, appendix, notes, no bibliography, b&w images sprinkled through text.
First published in 1995, Lies My Teacher Told Me is has sold more than a million copies. Its reissue contains the original content but also recounts world events that have happened since then, such as the War in Iraq and the 2001 New York terrorist attacks. While an avowed foe of racism, Loewen devotes chapters both to "the invisibility of racism in American History textbooks" and "the invisibility of anti-racism in American History textbooks," suggesting that teachers and textbook publishers often duck important issues, to the detriment of the American public. His scope begins with the pre-Columbian period, "ranging over characters and events as diverse as Reconstruction, Helen Keller, the first Thanksgiving, and the MyLai massacre." James W. Loewen is professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Vermont. He lives in Washington, D.C.