from The Textbook Letter, January-February 1999

Reviewing a high-school book in American history

History of a Free Nation
1998. 1,118 pages. ISBN of the student's edition: 0-02-821383-1.
Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 936 Eastwind Drive, Westerville, Ohio 43081.
(Glencoe/McGraw-Hill is a division of the McGraw-Hill Companies.)

More Fake "History" from Glencoe

William J. Bennetta

Glencoe's History of a Free Nation is one of several current textbooks in which history has been bashed and battered to fit the sociopolitical ideology of the extreme left. Other books in this category include Holt's Boyer's The American Nation, West Publishing's United States History: In the Course of Human Events and McDougal Littell's America's Past and Promise. All of them are linked -- through a common set of dogmas -- to National Standards for United States History, a document that was issued in 1994 by a far-left organization in California. All of them revolve around multiculturalism [see note 1 below]. and its ideological subsystems -- racism, anti-intellectualism, Victimism, and presentism [note 2].

When Angelo Codevilla reviewed the 1996 version of History of a Free Nation, he scorned its "promotion of ridiculous ignorance for the sake of hewing to pop ideology" [note 3]. The 1998 version is almost identical with the book that Codevilla examined, and Glencoe has even reprinted a graph which announces that the population of the United States in 1990 was 5% greater than itself.

Sampling the Pages

Like the 1996 version, the 1998 History of a Free Nation has 1,118 pages -- 1,029 in the body of the book, 89 in an appendix. To look for differences in content, I randomly selected 102 pages in the body of the 1998 book (starting with page 3 and ending with page 1,017), and I compared them with the like-numbered pages in the 1996 version. Here are all the differences that I found:

In his review of the 1996 book, Angelo Codevilla declared: "School boards that are tired of books in which leftist indoctrination masquerades as history will not find any relief in History of a Free Nation."

That's still true.


  1. As I've noted before in these pages, the term multiculturalism has various meanings in various settings. In the present case, it denotes a body of leftist ideology which proclaims that the United States is a jumble of discrete racial or quasiracial groups, all hostile to each other. Special attention is directed to blacks and Amerindians. These are sanitized, glorified and portrayed as noble, saintly Victims, while whites are viewed with contempt. This is what multiculturalism means within the American educational establishment. [return to text]

  2. Presentism is the practice of viewing the past, and judging the people of the past, in terms of today's standards and orthodoxies. Serious historians reject and denounce this practice. Political ideologues and schoolbook-writers use it regularly, to bamboozle and deceive their audiences. [return to text]

  3. See "Brainless, Twisted 'History' and Ridiculous Ignorance" in TTL, July-August 1998. [return to text]

William J. Bennetta is a professional editor, a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, the president of The Textbook League, and the editor of The Textbook Letter. He writes often about the propagation of quackery, false "science" and false "history" in schoolbooks.


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