AMERICANS are worried about God, globalisation and their place in the world. That, at least, is the conclusion to be drawn from the global sale of history books through Amazon.com.
A new edition of Thomas Friedman's 2005 bestseller, "The World is Flat", is there, along with Newt Gingrich on the role of religious faith in America and Michael Oren and Mark Steyn (interestingly, both outsiders) on the consequences of American behaviour abroad, especially in the Middle East.
These books all came out within the past six months. Big names and big subjects tend to generate big publicity around publication time, but it takes an additional, often indefinable something for a book to continue selling. James Loewen's "Lies My History Teacher Told Me" is nearly a decade old, and still sells hundreds of copies each week.
In an easy, readable style, the author vets ten topics (from Christopher Columbus to the Vietnam war) and bewails how American textbooks distort them. Although he sometimes adopts a tone of high political correctness, he often proves the textbooks and teachers wrong. For readers who are children at heart, what could be more appealing?
1. The World Is Flat [Updated And Expanded]: A Brief History Of The Twenty-First Century - By Thomas L. Friedman
2. Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid - By Jimmy Carter
3. Power, Faith, And Fantasy: America In The Middle East, 1776 To The Present - By Michael B. Oren
4. America Alone: The End Of The World As We Know It - By Mark Steyn
5. A People's History Of The United States: 1492-Present - By Howard Zinn
6. Medical Apartheid: The Dark History Of Medical Experimentation On Black Americans From Colonial Times To The Present - By Harriet A. Washington
7. Rediscovering God In America: Reflections On The Role Of Faith In Our Nation's History And Future - By Newt Gingrich
8. Six Frigates: The Epic History Of The Founding Of The U.S. Navy - By Ian W. Toll
9. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong - by James W. Loewen
10. The Cartoon History Of The Modern World Part 1: From Columbus To The U.S. Constitution - By Larry Gonick
There's an old activist saying: "Each one, reach one. Each one, teach one." I love that, because it emphasizes the ability of each of us to work for justice, and it emphasizes the need to educate.
All positive change begins with education. People can't fight against what they don't know and don't understand. So while I'm sorry to see flatworlder Tom Friedman's book at the top of the list, I'm confident his book will be collecting dust in the remainder bin while People's History and Lies My Teacher Told Me is still educating the world.