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Education Reporter

48 Liberal Lies About American History, Larry Schweikart, Sentinel 2008, 300 pp., $25.95

In his latest book, the author of A Patriot's History of the United States takes on some of the most egregious misrepresentations of the past that appear in popular textbooks of American history.

Schweikart's greatest strength is going straight to the source. Again and again, he uses primary sources and words from the very mouths of the people involved to prove the truth of his assertions about historical events. For example, on the subject of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Schweikart quotes former U.S.S.R. premier Nikita Khrushchev, who said that the Rosenbergs "provided very significant help in accelerating the production of our atom bomb." Schweikart also goes straight to the source when he quotes books that propagate the 48 lies. "Although they were not major spies and the information they revealed was not important, the Rosenbergs were executed, to the consternation of many liberals in the United States and elsewhere," Schweikart quotes from American Destiny.

The lies Schweikart addresses have political implications for the present day. (Otherwise, perhaps, biased textbooks would not consider them worth lying about.) If there really were Communists and spies in various federal departments in the mid-20th century (and there were), then the Left should stop using the specter of "McCarthyism" to shut down political debate. If Reagan's tax cuts were incredibly successful (and they were), then the New York Times should no longer mislead readers with one-sided statements like this one: "some economists believe [tax cuts] will not create as many new jobs as $70 billion in spending would." (2-18-09)

Schweikart's coverage of Reagan is of special interest, since four of the lies he counters concern Reagan's presidency. "The wanton disregard of facts when it comes to 'Reaganomics' constitutes what I call the 'pregnancy test' for bias in college textbooks," writes Schweikart. A text's coverage of Reagan quickly reveals where the authors stand. Take this example, from A Concise History of the American Republic: "It was hard to connect so likeable a man to the mean-spirited programs with which he was too often associated."

It is imperative that Americans learn the truth about the past, so they won't make voting and policy decisions based on distortions and outright lies. 48 Liberal Lies reveals how little some of the most-used textbooks can be trusted — and sets the record straight on matters of great national importance.

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