Originally published by HarperPerennial in 1991.
Richard Shenkman has written several books that show that many of the commonly-held beliefs about history are not quite true and some are absolutely false. The title comes from a quote from President Warren G. Harding when he was asked about a popular newspaper article that asserted that Paul Revere did not actually make his famous ride. Ironically, Paul Revere only gets two mentions: once on page 10 and the other on page 192. The mention on page 192 is simply the complete quote from Harding that inspired the title of the book. So, if you were thinking this was going to be a book about Paul Revere, you will be disappointed.
Instead, Shenkman's book is a reminder that there are always multiple views on history. Anybody that tells you that a certain group all believed a certain thing or they all did something for one reason is simplifying things and losing some of the nuance of how it really happened.
|The Boston Tea Party|
But, sometimes he takes things too far in order to make a point. For example, on page 66-67 he discusses the common belief that the Civil War laid the foundation for a post-war explosion of growth. He looks at railroad expansion and notes that "Before the war, railroad track increased at a rate of about 200 percent a decade. In the decade afterward, the rate barely reached 75 percent." Comparing rate of growth to actual growth is a game people play with statistics but does not deal in absolute growth.
His discussion of the Boston Tea Party is similar in that it is completely factual, but does not include all of the facts in order to make a point about the men who led it. It's a valid point, but it is certainly not the only point.
This is an extremely readable book that makes the valuable point, as I've already noted, that history is seldom as simple as we tell one another. It's not always as simple as Shenkman makes it out to be, either. I do recommend this book, however. It teaches that the reader needs to do his or her own research and provides plenty of places to get started.
I rate this book 4 stars out of 5. It can be found on Amazon.com here: "I LOVE PAUL REVERE< WHETHER HE RODE or NOT" by Richard Shenkman.