Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Review: Founding Myths: Stories that Hide Our Patriotic Past by Ray Raphael

Founding Myths: Stories that Hide Our Patriotic PastTitle: Founding Myths: Stories that Hide Our Patriotic Past
Author: Ray Raphael
Source/Format: Purchased, Hardcover
More Details: Nonfiction, History
Publisher/Publication Date: MJF Books, August 11, 2007

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

Much of what you thought you knew about American history is wrong...

Our best-loved tales actually sell America short, Raphael says. This nation was founded not just by the handful of "founding fathers" we have come to admire, but also by the revolutionary activities of innumerable and nameless patriots who are not mentioned in textbooks. Why should only a select few get the credit? The collaborative spirit and effort of the American people is an important concept for children (and adults) to learn...
“The stories work best because they clarify and vindicate who we are—but they also conceal who we don’t want to be.” (p.244).

What if the Revolutionary War could not be defined by simple paragraphs that summarized the events that transpired? What could be the reason to twist fact and mix it with speculation—to make for a better story? Sometimes the cause was poor record keeping at the time, or simply a romanticization of facts to make historical events into a favorable story—good vs evil. All those things and more were explored in Founding Myths by Ray Raphael.

Founding Myths can be summed up by one simple phrase: food for thought. This book gave me a lot to think about. The founding myths, as explored in this book, painted a grim but realistic picture of history, in contrast to the almost rosy-hued lens that gave misconceptions popularity among fact. This selective isolation of stories overshadowed real accomplishments, struggles, and suffering—and gave a narrow view to a broad history. One thing that I noticed while reading the book is that there were a few common themes: effort, collaboration, and strategic planning/preparation. Founding Myths offered an organized look at the events that gradually led to the Revolutionary War. The book also made mention of the ordinary people who had taken part in such monumental events in history instead of focusing on one limited group—as well as the state of politics/alliances abroad during the same time period.

The best books, whether they're nonfiction or fiction, leave a lasting impression. That was my reaction to Founding Myths, and I’m glad I decided to give it a chance. (Actual rating 4.5)

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