Thursday, May 14, 2009


Non-fiction, notes, 60 pp., 2004. Thompson Publishing, 625 Dorothy Street, Metter, GA 30439.

Text Books, especially history, have changed drastically with in the past twenty five years. They have become thicker, but contain less information. Pictures replace dialogue on most pages, while large type setting and margins give the illusion of a page filled with facts. Today’s text books are written at a lower reading and vocabulary level then those from the past and include diverse learning of different races, genders and ethnic groups.

Once heroes of our youth, men, like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, are maligned. This multi-billion dollar industry is providing the material to teach our children not be proud of their heritage and history, especially if they are a white Southerner.

When did this occur? Why would history text books be a concern to any one? Gordon Thompson looks at these questions and more in his book It’s not What You Know, The Battle to Control How You Feel About History. Mr. Thompson spent thirteen years teaching Georgia and US history. Through his teaching experience, he saw the decline in the quality of text books. Due to this, he began to research the history pertaining to the past hundred years of the text book industry. Mr. Thompson exposes when the changes began to occur, but the topic he concentrates on most is “Why?”
Mr. Thompson states, “What has happened to text books is that they have become key weapons in a cultural war being waged in our country.” This book details many of the radical steps that have been taken by revisionists, especially James Lowen and Howard Zinn, to influence the current trend of history books. “In the last century, text books have been under the increasing control of liberal revisionist who want to control how children think about America.”

While this book is small, it contains valuable information that all parents and school teachers need to know. Many people do not understand the word “revisionist.” Mr. Thompson defines it in his book as, “An attempt by current scholars to incorporate into historical record, the new facts, information, evidence and interpretation that recent academics work has uncovered.” He goes on to say later in his book, “Students should always understand that they will probably be expected to learn both lies and truths, but the lies will probably be the answers to test questions.”

Mr. Thompson gives ideas and suggestions as to what parents can do in their child’s school. He also encourages people to give life to history by telling or writing family stories. By doing this, you are combating the revisionists influence in your home.

Whether a parent or a teacher, It’s Not What You Know will enlighten you as to the why’s of the drastic change in text books. Consider giving this book to your child’s history teacher during Teacher Appreciation Week. It may astound them and encourage a more in-depth study of what he or she is teaching our future.

Book review by Cassie A. Barrow

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