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Vampire Lincoln Vs the Texas School Board

vampire_lincoln00HISTORY MATTERS

Extreme history is here. A new literary mash-up is at the top oc the New York Times bestseller list. It features President Abraham Lincoln hunting vampire’s during the Civil War. At the same time, the "real" story of America is being decided by a small collection of conservative educators. Does history stand a chance? (Continued below)


Axing American History

Abraham Lincoln is wild-eyed as he grabs an ax from over the fireplace in his White House office. The old rail-splitter makes a mighty swing, but the intruder seems to have superhuman speed and dodges the flying blade. He tosses the six-foot-five-inch president across the room like a ragdoll, then leaps toward him, sharp teeth exposed. But with amazing dexterity, Lincoln flings his mighty ax, embedding it deep in the chest of his attacker, a man who looks not unlike John Wilkes Booth.

"I’ve been a slave to vampires for 30 years," the president hisses, and as he brings the weapon down for one final decapitating blow, the video cuts to black – and the ads come up.

READ ALSO: Lincoln assassin engaged to Seacoast NH woman

This is the dramatic video promotion for the new "true-history" book Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. That’s right. I said "video". History publishers are finally catching on to the YouTube generation who don’t want to buy the book until after they’ve seen the movie. The two-minute video clip is shot in black and white, except for the red blood, and can be seen in the book section of There is also a Vampire-Lincoln app for your iPhone and a video game version. The new vampire book inspired one pundit to announce "Now history really sucks."

Historians probably should be horrified by all this. The founding director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library has called the book "the bastardization of the Lincoln story". This historian, however, is highly amused. Documenting human history is a serious task and scholars need to scrutinize the past with vigor, depth and integrity. But history professors also need to get a life. Vampire Lincoln is a romp, not a threat.

Who defines America?

Generally, we have done a pretty poor job of teaching our kids about the United States. I rarely meet anyone from England or Canada or Asia who doesn’t know more about world history – including our own -- than the average American. School curricula too often focus on dates and names, teaching for the test, and missing the big picture. Despite some excellent and inspiring instructors, many schools continue to "cover" the details and patriotic lessons of the past, rather than "uncovering" what really happened and what that means to us today.

Worse than that, our official textbooks often get the facts wrong, avoid alternative explanations, exhibit "history amnesia", or are hopelessly out of step with the times. Author James W. Loewan has been arguing this point for years in updated editions of his popular book Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.

History, we know, is written by the victors. American history is also written by committee, especially the Texas school board that heavily determines what millions of students will study. The Texas book buy is so huge and influential that their impact on textbook publishers is felt across the country. What they call history becomes history.

Progressive educators say the standards currently being revised this month are short on diversity and white-wash mistakes that our country has made in the past. Conservatives argue that they are returning to the "facts" of America’s founding as a Christian nation and to the superiority of our free enterprise system. The Texas educators say they are merely emphasizing America’s "exceptionalism" when compared to other countries. In other words, our history is special and theirs is not. From what I’ve seen of the controversial new Texas standards, we might be better off with the vampire version.


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