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Where to find info on textbook selection/propaganda in the US?


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Ok, so in general I'm looking for information on how textbooks (aka propaganda) are selected for public school curriculum in the US. Does anyone have any tips? Books, articles, inspirations...

Specifically:

I'm finding lots of books on what official history books don't teach us.

I'm finding a couple of books on controversy over textbook selection in US public education.

I'm finding zilch on how textbooks and novels are selected, fed into the propaganda pipeline and forced on hapless students.

More specifically:

I'm reading about Huey Long and realizing that he was one of the most remarkable populist pols in US history. He took on Standard Oil big time. And of course he was murdered. I think he's quite significant in US history and a target of major ongoing propaganda, as was/is President Kennedy of course.

I also wonder if the famous book "All the King's Men" was flat out propaganda against Huey Long.

I'm not claiming it is, 'cause I don't know what the hell I'm talking about. I'm just wondering.

But it sure seems to trash Long, in fictional guise of course.

I'm totally unable to find any suggestion that "All the King's Men" or Robert Penn Warren were part of the smear Long biz.

But just try taking an American Literature class in the US without having "All the King's Men" crammed down your throat.

How did that book become a cornerstone of American Lit classes?

So, uh, anyone have any input or suggestions on any of the above?

Edited by Myra Bronstein
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Myra, the clasic text on your first question is America Revised by Frances Fitzgerald. I read it a long time ago and found it good. Im sure parts of it are still relavent.

Re:Huey Long, I have also been meaning to do some closer reading on this guy. Why? I have learned to grow very suspicious of the way american journalists use the word populists and demagogue. Populist especially used to have a more specific meaning, but not is used in a fuzzier way. It is interesting that poltical words like this can morph out fast in USA political speak!

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http://www.mdah.state.ms.us/arlib/contents...|6|1|1|1|80211|

scroll down for links to next page(s)

More importantly, there is also on this site a multipage analysis of texts available, with cover letter and detail of selection criteria. I've come across it on a number of occasions but not at the moment. If you go to 'new search' and enter in people search the name of an author of the time who might have been 'censored' you're likely to come across this document. It's basically pro segregationist and was commissioned and used for book selection purposes. The Texas SBD was the source for texts. Black schools tended to get the leftovers or last seasons surplus.

Edited by John Dolva
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Myra, the clasic text on your first question is America Revised by Frances Fitzgerald. I read it a long time ago and found it good. Im sure parts of it are still relavent.

Re:Huey Long, I have also been meaning to do some closer reading on this guy. Why? I have learned to grow very suspicious of the way american journalists use the word populists and demagogue. Populist especially used to have a more specific meaning, but not is used in a fuzzier way. It is interesting that poltical words like this can morph out fast in USA political speak!

Ah, thank you for the Fitzerald recommendation Nathaniel.

The book I've ordered on Huey Long is "Huey Long" by T. Harry Williams. It seems to have a good reputation and a good number of excellent, non-suspicious, reviews on Amazon.

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http://www.mdah.state.ms.us/arlib/contents...|6|1|1|1|80211|

scroll down for links to next page(s)

More importantly, there is also on this site a multipage analysis of texts available, with cover letter and detail of selection criteria. I've come across it on a number of occasions but not at the moment. If you go to 'new search' and enter in people search the name of an author of the time who might have been 'censored' you're likely to come across this document. It's basically pro segregationist and was commissioned and used for book selection purposes. The Texas SBD was the source for texts. Black schools tended to get the leftovers or last seasons surplus.

Excellent. Thank you John!

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http://www.mdah.state.ms.us/arlib/contents...|6|1|1|1|80211|

scroll down for links to next page(s)

More importantly, there is also on this site a multipage analysis of texts available, with cover letter and detail of selection criteria. I've come across it on a number of occasions but not at the moment. If you go to 'new search' and enter in people search the name of an author of the time who might have been 'censored' you're likely to come across this document. It's basically pro segregationist and was commissioned and used for book selection purposes. The Texas SBD was the source for texts. Black schools tended to get the leftovers or last seasons surplus.

Excellent. Thank you John!

Myra, a few years back, a best seller, Lies My Teacher Told Me addressed the questions in your first post. It was written by James Loewen, a college history professor who was disgusted by the amount of misinformation contained in the high school texts. He goes through, point by point, from Columbus to Lincoln to Wilson to Helen Keller to Vietnam, and shows how American high school history texts are largely propaganda, designed to convince the people that, while the U.S. has occasionally stumbled, we are bound for glory and the "shining city on the hill" Reagan fantasized about. He shows how the texts avoid Columbus' religious zeal and slave-taking, Wilson's racism, and Helen Keller's communism. He also shows how, for the past 100 years, the text books have down-played Lincoln's anti-slavery stance, and the south's pro-slavery commitment, as pre-texts for the civil war. He says this was done to appease southern states, pre-dominantly Texas, that have extremely conservative review boards and will prevent schools from carrying books which make the south look like the bad guy in the war. TFB. I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest.

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http://www.mdah.state.ms.us/arlib/contents...|6|1|1|1|80211|

scroll down for links to next page(s)

More importantly, there is also on this site a multipage analysis of texts available, with cover letter and detail of selection criteria. I've come across it on a number of occasions but not at the moment. If you go to 'new search' and enter in people search the name of an author of the time who might have been 'censored' you're likely to come across this document. It's basically pro segregationist and was commissioned and used for book selection purposes. The Texas SBD was the source for texts. Black schools tended to get the leftovers or last seasons surplus.

Excellent. Thank you John!

Myra, a few years back, a best seller, Lies My Teacher Told Me addressed the questions in your first post. It was written by James Loewen, a college history professor who was disgusted by the amount of misinformation contained in the high school texts. He goes through, point by point, from Columbus to Lincoln to Wilson to Helen Keller to Vietnam, and shows how American high school history texts are largely propaganda, designed to convince the people that, while the U.S. has occasionally stumbled, we are bound for glory and the "shining city on the hill" Reagan fantasized about. He shows how the texts avoid Columbus' religious zeal and slave-taking, Wilson's racism, and Helen Keller's communism. He also shows how, for the past 100 years, the text books have down-played Lincoln's anti-slavery stance, and the south's pro-slavery commitment, as pre-texts for the civil war. He says this was done to appease southern states, pre-dominantly Texas, that have extremely conservative review boards and will prevent schools from carrying books which make the south look like the bad guy in the war. TFB. I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest.

Thank you Pat. That book sounds ideal. I've ordered it at the library.

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Ok, so in general I'm looking for information on how textbooks (aka propaganda) are selected for public school curriculum in the US. Does anyone have any tips? Books, articles, inspirations...

Specifically:

I'm finding lots of books on what official history books don't teach us.

I'm finding a couple of books on controversy over textbook selection in US public education.

I'm finding zilch on how textbooks and novels are selected, fed into the propaganda pipeline and forced on hapless students.

More specifically:

I'm reading about Huey Long and realizing that he was one of the most remarkable populist pols in US history. He took on Standard Oil big time. And of course he was murdered. I think he's quite significant in US history and a target of major ongoing propaganda, as was/is President Kennedy of course.

I also wonder if the famous book "All the King's Men" was flat out propaganda against Huey Long.

I'm not claiming it is, 'cause I don't know what the hell I'm talking about. I'm just wondering.

But it sure seems to trash Long, in fictional guise of course.

I'm totally unable to find any suggestion that "All the King's Men" or Robert Penn Warren were part of the smear Long biz.

But just try taking an American Literature class in the US without having "All the King's Men" crammed down your throat.

How did that book become a cornerstone of American Lit classes?

So, uh, anyone have any input or suggestions on any of the above?

Myra, The Rapp-Caudert Committee in NYC circa 1940 was, among other aspects of the school system, investigating text book selection.

There's also America's Futue:

http://www.americasfuture.net/misc/founded.html

In 1955, America's Future established All-American Books, a quarterly review. In 1956, we launched the All-American Book Digest, which offered condensations of two key books in each issue. Among the first volumes to be selected were John T. Flynn's While You Slept, Elizabeth Bentley's Out of Bondage, Donald R. Richberg's Labor Union Monopoly, and Rear Admiral Robert A. Theobald's The Final Secret of Pearl Harbor. In 1959, we published the first issue of our America's Future newsletter. Both the reprints of our radio program, "Behind The Headlines," and the quarterly All-American Books were incorporated into the newsletter, which has been printed without interruption ever since.

We launched our Textbook Evaluation Project in 1958, to give due recognition to textbooks that accurately portray our history, our government, and our economic system -- and to alert the unsuspecting public to those that distort the facts or justify the expansion of Big Government. We were the first to expose this leftist indoctrination of schoolchildren. During the many years of its existence, our Textbook Evaluation Committee reviewed hundreds of individual books, mostly in the social sciences.

I think this whole area of propaganda, conditioning, or whatever you want to call it, of school aged children, is quite important to the Oswald story.

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Myra, you may also be interested to know that there was a move in the seventies to update public school history books, and teach history from multi-cultural view points, and downplay the "and then on blank day the president did blank" approach to history so prevalent in the standard texts. During the Reagan years this met a huge backlash. One conservative congressman's wife started a national campaign to have the school books re-written to focus more on the incredible accomplishments of Washington, Lincoln, etc and less on the accomplishments of Big Bill Haywood and Harriett Tubman, etc... Somewhere in my stacks I have a book written by the All-American family that brought this textbook crisis to this woman's attention. In any event, this congressman's wife's campaign helped her husband's career immensely and made him a "darling" of the Reagan right. Her name was Lynne Cheney and her successful campaign gave us Dick.

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