Book Review

Book cover image
The Oxford History of the American People

Samuel Eliot Morison
Oxford University Press, 1965, 1150 pages



T he very first sentences of this book, expressing bafflement about the Mayan language, reminds the reader how much has changed since this book was written in 1964. Although we have since decrypted the Mayan language, much of the change, especially among historians who have elevated every half-baked conspiracy theory to the status of established fact, and discredited the field of history by infusing it with political propaganda, has sadly been change for the worse. Morison's Oxford History of the American People is therefore a refreshing throwback to a time when historians were mainly concerned with finding and telling the truth about their subjects. Its narrative style is also filled with colorful cultural details intended to enhance readability; however, this detracts slightly from the factual content. For example, the importance of Marbury vs Madison, the case that established the supremacy of the Supreme Court, is seriously underemphasized. And some events in the post-WWII era that were current when the book was written, such as McCarthyism and the Cuban Missile Crisis, are described inaccurately or not at all. Eleven hundred pages are just not enough to completely cover the vast history of such a vast country.
August 10, 2003 Back