California Literary Review

The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History – by Thomas E. Woods, Jr., PhD.

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April 24th, 2007 at 4:12 am

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The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History
by Thomas E. Woods, Jr., PhD.
Regnery Publishing, Inc., 270 pp.
CLR Rating: ★★★★★

HISTORY, AS IF THE TRUTH MATTERED

The good news is that the assault on fortress academe has had initial success; the walls have been pierced, and a lodgment made. Rebel infantry, boldly supported by batteries brought up to do close work, are sending the entrenched Educrats skeddadling for the safety of their ivy-covered bunkers.

And, the leader of this latest assault is a brilliant, young, professor of history, one Thomas Woods, Jr., a graduate, interestingly enough, of Harvard and Columbia. Dr. Woods has risen in rebellion to the New History, a pernicious and debilitating historical milieu that has stifled and perverted education of three generations, leaving many Americans blithely ignorant and ill-used.

The good Dr. Woods “aims to set the record straight.” He has, by diligence and hard work, set about to provide the cogent public with “a systemic narrative…an introduction to some of the more controversial aspect of American history.” And, he has succeeded wonderfully!

Woods is not wedded to some benighted leftist worldview; he eschews the required subservience to the moribund tenets of socialism. Indeed, he finds the mimetic “progressives” and their allied liberal friends to be more than annoying. Wrapped, as they usually are, in the placenta of do-goodism, this cadre of flesh eaters have given the American people war, death, taxes, and reduced liberties, all in the name of evangelical patriotism, and the absurd notion of exporting democracy at the point of a bayonet.

With special emphasis on sacred cows, Woods aims his sharp wit and keen eye across the whole of American history. Starting with the Pilgrims, he illustrates that the Indian nations freely sold their lands. Indeed, I am reminded of one industrious Lenape sachem who sold the same acreage on three separate occasions (stupid White Men!)

Using an economy of words the author ably explains complex ideas and situations so clearly that an underachieving high school student can understand. Cleverly, the good professor affixes recommended reading suggestions that will benefit the interested student. He also inserts an occasional “PC Today,” “What they said,” and “A Book You’re Not Supposed to Read,” sidebars that are as instructive as they are entertaining.

Woods’s treatment of the Constitution is as good as any I’ve read. In clear and concise words he outlines the text, explains the position of its supporters and, gives credence to the heroic and farsighted Antifederalists whose fears were downright prescient. Read Woods’s chapter on the Constitution and you’ll know as much about that document as some on the U.S. Supreme Court and quite a bit more than others. And, in finishing the chapter the professor leaves us with a Jeffersonianism worth repeating, “In questions of power, then let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down by the chains of the Constitution.”

Dr. Woods then takes us on a tour de force through America’s infancy. The discussion centers on the “general welfare clause,” governmental checks and balances (it didn’t work very well), the Alien and Sedition Acts (can you say Patriot Act), the beloved Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, and the real force behind the “compact” theory, nullification. Again, keep it in mind that Dr. Woods presents these complex ideas very clearly. In finishing the chapter he succinctly writes, “The main point that nullification addresses is that a government allowed to determine the scope of its own powers cannot remain limited for long.”

Dr. Woods’s treatment of the causa belli for the War of Secession is usually not allowed to appear in print. The reasons are because Father Abraham did not fight to “save the Union,” and he certainly didn’t make war to “free the slaves” but, rather, it was all about power and wealth. If the nascent Confederate Congress had not passed a limited tariff law in March of 1861, it’s quite possible there would have been no war. But, America’s manufacturers, most of whom were located in the northeast, counted on the high U.S. tariffs to keep foreign goods priced higher than there own. With high U.S. tariffs, they could jack up the price of their own goods and reap considerable profits, particularly from the agrarian South. In turn, the ante-bellum U. S. government collected a significant portion of its income from southern pockets as a result of the various tariffs.

The author details the “compact theory,” that argues that the several states voluntarily entered into a compact and in so doing established the federal government. He points out that the Bill of Rights is really a list of restrictions against usurpations by the federal government. That the powers of the federal regime are limited and enumerated and that any power not granted to that government is specifically held by the several states or the people.

Woods clears up the question of the ignominy of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the havoc that illegal codicil has caused, the impeachment of President Johnson, no not Lyndon (who should have been) but Andrew, and then presents an entirely refreshing overview of America’s greatest evil (in the eyes of the left), Big Business.

Dr. Woods is honest and objective in his analysis of the left’s Twentieth Century icons from the obsessive, compulsive, Teddy Roosevelt to his megalomaniac cousin, Franklin; from the mentally impaired Woodrow Wilson and his “war to end wars,” to Harry Truman and his usurpation of congressional authority (the responsibility to declare war); from Jack Kennedy who couldn’t keep his pants up, to our own beloved “Bubba” Clinton, who couldn’t keep his pants up.

The author’s treatment of the previous century is among the best I’ve ever read. He examines the Depression, New Deal, The Great Society, Hitler, Stalin, and a number of additional issues with refreshing candor. Hey, the only thing Senator Joe McCarthy did wrong was drink too much and underestimate the number of fellow travelers and “useful idiots” in Roosevelt and Truman’s governments!

Dr. Thomas Woods is a gifted historian whose reference point is the founding generation of Americans. That perspective, I think, gives credence to his genius because no future generation ever came as close to the truth as those heroes did. Woods understands that, in terms of individual liberty and good government, it’s been pretty much down hill. Born a republic, we declined into a social democracy, and now we’ve embraced the concepts of imperialism. It seems America’s managerial elite just can’t mind their own business. Well, that’s human nature for you, and it’s human nature that Dr. Woods clearly comprehends.

But beyond knowledge, Woods is a gifted writer. In this book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, the good professor has created an extremely entertaining, page-turning, delight. And, it should be incumbent upon every school board across the length and breadth of the country to order sufficient copies (I’m sure there are discounts available) to educate every high school student in America. Do not allow these students to go off to college ignorant; rather let them go armed with the knowledge to instruct their professors!

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