Why didn't you talk about.....

This is by no means a comprehensive book - we only had so much space. Some people got left out just because we didn't feel very good about ourselves when we made jokes about them. Our hope is that people will read this and then go read much more comprehensive history books. The Smart Aleck's Guide is a good starting place for people who want to learn more about history, but there's a lot we couldn't get to.

I disagree when you say that _______. You're biased.

History is subjective, no matter how hard we try to make our book unbiased. Trying to get into the head of someone from 200 years ago to figure out what was motivating them is almost as hard as trying to guess what they'd think about any given issue now. We made every effort to fact check, allow for error, and cover both sides when there's room for debate (things are hardly ever black and white; when there are two opposing points of view, the truth pretty generally lies somewhere in between). Trust us: if we wanted to use the book to push a political view, it would have been a very different book.

I think Thomas Jefferson was more religious than you make him out to be. Here's this quote....

Like all of the founding fathers, and everyone else, Jefferson didn't roar out of the womb with all of his opinions fully formed. They all had different ideas and those ideas changed over the course of their lives. Some of them went back and forth between being very religious and being atheists at various times in their lives. If we had any point to make about religion, it's that the impression some people have that before, say, 1992 everyone was either a devout Christian or the town atheist is not realisitic.

Why don't you have a bibliography? Did you think you were too cool to cite your sources?

Excellent question! And thank you for believing that we're cool. The fact is, as hard as we tried to fact-check everything, we're not academics, and the book is not a scholarly work. And, anyway, bibliographies are sort of out of date, in a way, aren't they? I mean, we could put in a list saying we got this fact from that source, but how do you know that source isn't full of crap? We ran into that a lot - we'd run acoss a surprising anecdote in some book, look it up in the bibliography, and it would turn to come from something totally unreliable. If you want a source on something nowadays, you can just google it. You'll get better results, anyway. We put up this web page to put up some supplemental material and provide links to back us up on some of this stuff we thought people would be most likely to call us on. History is full of things to argue about!


Yeah, it really was. Of course, it wasn't exactly a Northern crusade against slavery (at least not at first), and your average southern soldier probably felt more like he was defending his family from an invading army than anything else (many, if not most, soldiers on both sides just joined because it was the thing to do at the time). But the southern states made it VERY clear that they were seceding to preserve slavery, and once people figured out that the war wasn't going to be over in a month, they also figured out that if the war didn't resolve the slavery issue, they'd just have to fight the same war again in twenty years. Prior to the war starting, Lincoln didn't feel he had the power to end slavery - and he really didn't. It wasn't like he could just wave a magic wand and say "Okay, guys, no more of this crap!" As far as he could go was to try to stop slavery from spreading beyond the south and hoping that it would die out on its own within a hundred years. But we digress. Check out the links over at Chapter 4 and read The Articles of Secession.

Why do you moderate the comment form on these pages? Don't you like free speech?

We think comments forms always end up looking like the one at the bottom of this.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...