I may not know much about history, but I don’t mess with it either

Whew!  That was a long drive home.  We got caught in traffic jams caused by two accidents, so we got to spend an extra couple of hours in the car.  Still, better to sit around because of an accident than to be in an accident.  I’ve done both and prefer the former.

While we were driving, we let the kids watch “Miracle on 34th Street,” which is always charming.  We spent most of the drive though, listening to a book on CD: Kenneth C. Davis’ Don’t Know Much About History: Everything You Need to Know About American History but Never Learned.

It was an interesting book, in that it was honest about the facts (although Davis did buy the story about smallpox infected blankets, a story I understand to be a Howard Zinn fraud), but he couldn’t resist Left-wing editorializing, even when his editorial asides didn’t mesh with the facts.  For example, in the section about why the British lost the colonies, his set-up was that they lost it for precisely the same reason that the Americans lost in Vietnam.  In some respects, he was correct — a far-away enemy making logistics challenging, weak support at home, and the fact that the enemy used new tactics while the larger force (Britain/America) was still using its successful tactics from the previous war.

However, what Davis also tried to do was imply that, as was the case with Britain and the American colonies, America in Vietnam was trying to enforce imperial control on a small nation.  He also implies that the Soviet Union in the 20th century, as did France in the 18th century, came in after the conflict started to aid the underdog and humiliate an old enemy.  In that, Davis is completely dishonest.  Vietnam was not a part of the American empire, nor was America trying to squeeze it into that role.  And unlike France, the Soviet Union was not initially a disinterested bystander that only came in to aid an underdog and humiliate an old enemy at the same time.  Instead, Vietnam always was a proxy war between superpowers.  More than that, our aim was to prevent Vietnam from being subjugated to a colonizing power, rather than to subjugate it to our own power.

So, not only was Davis biased, he was historically wrong.  Still, he gets points for presenting the facts (even if he didn’t understand their import) and the kids did get more brain food than they would have if they’d just watch an endless series of mindless movies while we drove.