In his Don’t Know Much About… books, author Kenneth C. Davis makes traditionally “hard” subjects more interesting, accessible and enjoyable. These books are a treasure trove of little-known and fascinating facts that are usually, some would say conveniently, left out of traditional textbooks.
Davis’ book America’s Hidden History (4/5 stars, currently priced at $14.99) isn’t part of the Don’t Know Much About… series, but it’s a great place to start. From Amazon:
Kenneth C. Davis, author of the phenomenal New York Times bestseller Don’t Know Much About History, presents a collection of extraordinary stories, each detailing an overlooked episode that shaped the nation’s destiny and character. Davis’s dramatic narratives set the record straight, busting myths and bringing to light little-known but fascinating facts from a time when the nation’s fate hung in the balance.
Spanning a period from the Spanish arrival in America to George Washington’s inauguration in 1789, America’s Hidden History details these episodes, among others:
• The story of the first real Pilgrims in America, who were wine-making French Huguenots, not dour English Separatists
• The coming-of-age story of Queen Isabella, who suggested that Columbus pack the moving mess hall of pigs that may have spread disease to many Native Americans
• The long, bloody relationship between the Pilgrims and Indians that runs counter to the idyllic scene of the Thanksgiving feast
• The little-known story of George Washington as a headstrong young soldier who committed a war crime, signed a confession, and started a war!
Full of color, intrigue, and human interest, America’s Hidden History is an iconoclastic look at America’s past, connecting some of the dots between history and today’s headlines, proving why Davis is truly America’s Teacher.
Davis’ Don’t Know Much About… books tend to draw mixed reviews, since he often stands at odds with traditionalists who claim his books are little more than a “lite” treatment of the subject matter or events at hand. But given that many of us don’t truly want anything more than a “lite” treatment, and those who do may be inspired to seek out more scholarly books on the same subjects, it’s not surprising that many of Davis’ books have become popular and beloved bestsellers.
– Which president broke the laws to keep his slaves from being freed?
– How did a president help save college football from early extinction?
– Who said, “When the president does it that means it’s not illegal”?
– If the framers of the Constitution didn’t mention an “electoral college,” how come it picks the president?
– Who was the “Negro President?”
You have questions. Kenneth C. Davis has answers.
For more than twenty years since his New York Times bestseller Don’t Know Much About History: Everything You Need to Know About American History but Never Learned first appeared, Davis has shown that Americans don’t hate history, just the dull version dished out in school. An instant classic, his first work of American history has sold more than 1.6 million copies.
Now Davis turns his attention to what is arguably the most important and most fascinating subject in American history: our presidents. From the heated debates over executive powers when those framers improvised the office in the steamy summer of 1787 though the curious election of George Washington in 1789 and, for more than 200 years, up through the meteoric rise of Barack Obama, the first African-American commander in chief, the presidency has been at the heart of American history.
From the low lights to the bright lights, from the intellectuals to the disasters, from the memorable to the forgettable and forgotten, Davis tells all the stories. He uses his entertaining question-and-answer style to chart the history of the presidency itself as well as debunk the myths of America’s leaders and tell the real stories of these very real people. Here’s the young Lincoln building his mother’s coffin and dragging a tragic burden through the snow to the burial; Theodore Roosevelt, America’s youngest president, shockingly pushed into the presidency–with greatness thrust upon him; FDR, the only man elected four times, concealing his crippling disability from the American public as he led the nation through depression and world war; and Lyndon Johnson, reelected in a landslide, then crushed by the weight of the Vietnam War.
For history buffs and history-phobes alike, this entertaining book is packed with memorable facts that will change your understanding of the highest office in the land and the men who have occupied it.
“Reading [Kenneth C. Davis] is like returning to the classroom of the best teacher you ever had.” —People
Revised, updated, and expanded, the Twentieth Anniversary Edition of Kenneth C. Davis’s classic anti-textbook Don’t Know Much About History revitalizes the landmark book’s ability to revolutionize the way we look at our past. Like Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, Davis’s Don’t Know Much About History captivates readers with a wry and lucid, comprehensive and comprehensible narrative.
With a new section covering the twenty-first century’s most significant events, from the Great Recession to Hurricane Katrina to the election of Barack Obama and more, the Twentieth Anniversary Edition of Don’t Know Much About History reinvigorates the book’s crucial promise of delivering fascinating, insight-driven learning to a new generation of readers.
The latest installment in the New York Times bestselling Don’t Know Much About® series — a magical journey into the timeless world of mythology
It has been fifteen years since Kenneth C. Davis first dazzled audiences with his instant classic Don’t Know Much About® History, vividly bringing the past to life and proving that Americans don’t hate history, they just hate the dull, textbook version they were fed in school. With humor, wit, and a knack for storytelling, Davis has been bringing readers of all ages up to speed on history, geography, and science ever since. Now, in the classic traditions of Edith Hamilton and Joseph Campbell, he turns his talents to the world of myth.
Where do we come from? Why do stars shine and the seasons change? What is evil? Since the beginning of time, people have answered such questions by crafting imaginative stories that have served as religion, science, philosophy, and popular literature. In his irreverent and popular question-and-answer style, Davis introduces and explains the great myths of the world, as well as the works of literature that have made them famous. In a single volume, he tackles Mesopotamia’s Gilgamesh, the first hero in world mythology; Achilles and the Trojan War; Stonehenge and the Druids; Thor, the Nordic god of thunder; Chinese oracle bones; the use of peyote in ancient Native American rites; and the dramatic life and times of the man who would be Buddha.
Ever familiar and instructive, Davis shows why the ancient tales of gods and heroes — from Mount Olympus to Machu Picchu, from ancient Rome to the icy land of the Norse — continue to speak to us today, in our movies, art, language, and music. For mythology novices and buffs alike, and for anyone who loves a good story, Don’t Know Much About® Mythology is a lively and insightful look into the greatest stories ever told.
Who dug those canals on Mars? What was the biblical Star of Bethlehem? Were the pyramids built by extraterrestrials?
From the ancients who charted the heavens to Star Trek, The X-Files, and Apollo 13, outer space has intrigued people through the ages. Yet most of us look up at the night sky and feel totally in the dark when it comes to the basic facts about the universe.
Kenneth C. Davis steps into that void with a lively and readable guide to the discoveries, theories, and real people who have shed light on the mysteries and wonders of the cosmos.
Discover why Einstein was such a genius, the truth behind a blue moon or two, the amazing secrets of Stonehenge, and even how one great astronomer lost his nose.
With the fun question-and-answer format that has appealed to the millions of readers of his bestselling Don’t Much About® series, you’ll be taking off on an exciting armchair exploration of the solar system, the Milky Way, and beyond.