Monday, August 13, 2012

The power of History (News Network)

Last month we took note of History News Network's online poll to find "the least credible history book."  Seemed like a nice summertime giggle.  But now the ah, winner, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You've Always Believed about Thomas Jefferson by evangelist David Barton is being removed from sale by its publisher, Thomas Nelson.

Indeed The Jefferson Lies does sound like drivel:  the slave-holding agnostic Jefferson as a God-fearing civil rights activist who based the Declaration of Independence on the Bible?  Naah.  Barton does not stand up to fact-checking at all well.

But removing it from print?  No doubt there are a slew of wingnut Christianist publishing houses that will bring it out again instanter, and Barton's "martydom" will probably be good for his sales and his profile. But the idea that a publisher will attempt to kill a book just because it lost out in an online poll --- I hope that is not what HNN expected or intended. Thomas Nelson agreed to publish the thing, didn't they, so their reputation is already tagged to this book.  Cutting and running when it gets controversial doesn't help them.

Second place in the contest went to Howard Zinn's zillion-selling leftist history A People's History of the United States.  Is some chickenheart publisher going to kill that one off too?

The way to deal with a bad book is to call it a bad book  Killing a book because some of us don't much admire it -- I don't think so.

Hat tip: Sullivan's Dish
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