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The Untold History of the United States [Hardcover]

Oliver Stone , Peter Kuznick
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 30 2012
The companion to the Showtime documentary series, director Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznick challenge the prevailing orthodoxies of traditional history books in this thoroughly researched and rigorously analyzed look at the dark side of American history.

“At last the world knows America as the savior of the world!”—Woodrow Wilson

The notion of American exceptionalism, dating back to John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon aboard the Arbella, still warps Americans’ understanding of their nation’s role in the world. Most are loathe to admit that the United States has any imperial pretensions. But history tells a different story as filmmaker Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznick reveal in this riveting account of the rise and decline of the American empire.

Aided by the latest archival findings and recently declassified documents and building on the research of the world’s best scholars, Stone and Kuznick construct an often shocking but meticulously documented “People’s History of the American Empire” that offers startling context to the Bush-Cheney policies that put us at war in two Muslim countries and show us why the Obama administration has had such a difficult time cleaving a new path.

Stone and Kuznick will introduce readers to a pantheon of heroes and villains as they show not only how far the United States has drifted from its democratic traditions, but the powerful forces that have struggled to get us back on track.

The authors reveal that:
· The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were militarily unnecessary and morally indefensible.
· The United States, not the Soviet Union, bore the lion’s share of responsibility for perpetuating the Cold War.
· The U.S. love affair with right-wing dictators has gone as far as overthrowing elected leaders, arming and training murderous military officers, and forcing millions of people into poverty.
· U.S.-funded Islamist fundamentalists, who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan, have blown back to threaten the interests of the U.S. and its allies.
· U.S. presidents, especially in wartime, have frequently trampled on the constitution and international law.
· The United States has brandished nuclear threats repeatedly and come terrifyingly close to nuclear war.

American leaders often believe they are unbound by history, yet Stone and Kuznick argue that we must face our troubling history honestly and forthrightly in order to set a new course for the twenty-first century. Their conclusions will challenge even experts, but there is one question only readers can answer: Is it too late for America to change?

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Review

"Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick have done what many would consider impossible. They have written a political history of the United States in the 20th Century that tells us exactly how the United States became an empire through conscious decisions, and how the struggle to maintain that empire will go on despite which political party holds office. It is a brilliant survey of the untold story." (Lloyd C. Gardner, author of The Road to Tahrir Square)

“Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick provide a critical overview of US foreign policy during the past few decades. There is much here to reflect upon. Such a perspective is indispensable…At stake is whether the United States will choose to be the policeman of a “Pax Americana,” which is a recipe for disaster, or partner with other nations on the way to a safer, more just and sustainable future.” (President Mikhail Gorbachev)

“A brave revisionist study which shatters many foreign policy myths… the Stone-Kuznick team grapples with the unsavory legacy of American militarism. . . . Make room on your book shelf for this compelling leftist primer.” (Douglas Brinkley, New York Times bestselling author of The Great Deluge)

"Howard [Zinn] would have loved this ‘people’s history’ of the American Empire. It's compulsive reading: brilliant, a masterpiece!” (Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers)

“Finally, a book with the guts to challenge the accepted narrative of recent American history… This is the 'Washington didn't really chop down the cherry tree' book for our last hundred years." (Bill Maher)

“Kuznick and Stones’ Untold History is the most important historical narrative of this century.” (Martin Sherwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning co-author of American Prometheus)

"By casting a spotlight on the shadier aspects of America's past, as well as the humane alternatives, Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick provide a thought-provoking rebuttal to the nationalist myths that are far too often served up as history. They remind us that, until Americans have the courage to confront reality, they will remain trapped by their illusions." (Lawrence Wittner, author of One World or None: A History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement Through 1953)

"Stone and Kuznick provide a boldly critical view of the most painful aspects of American history. Their perspective on nuclear danger is especially illuminating. They make clear how close we have come to the ultimate human absurdity of annihilating ourselves as a species with our own technology. One thinks of the Enlightenment motto, "Dare to know!" The knowledge we gain can be a source of powerful wisdom." (Robert Jay Lifton, author of Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism)

"We won't be able to manage America's future if we don't know its past. In their Untold Story, Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick peel away layers of misleading myth about America in the 20th century. Some will be surprised, others angry. Most will understand their nation much better, especially the young. Then perhaps we can move forward in the new century." (Jeff Madrick, author of Taking America)

It’s time for serious people to confront rather than avoid or attempt to denigrate the profound challenges raised by Stone and Kuznick. They are asking (and answering!) all the right questions. (Gar Alperovitz, author of The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb)

Many books have been written about specific episodes of American intervention and military aggression. And yet the master narrative remains intact: the US is the "indispensable nation," relied upon by people and nations around the world to preserve the peace and defend freedom. The immense contribution of The Untold History of the United States is to shatter the conventional wisdom, challenging readers to re-conceptualise the American role in the world...Everyone, who reads The Untold History will learn something new and be compelled to examine long held assumptions. For students of US history, this is an invaluable work. (Carolyn Eisenberg, author of Drawing the Line: The American Decision to Divide Germany, 1944-1949)

"A fascinating and provocative work. This courageous and clear-minded account of American history and the foundations of the American empire is a milestone in a surprisingly small genre of books, namely, critical history written of and for the people. It should have the widest possible reading." (Bruce Cumings, author of The Korean War)

"Kuznick and Stone tell the untold history of the United States--the often disastrous consequences of American exceptionalism and global domination--with passion and clarity... beautifully illustrated, well-argued, and compellingly written." (Marilyn Young, author of The Vietnam Wars)

"The Untold History of the United States is one of the most important books of our time. Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick disabuse us of the popular notion that this country has always been a force for good in the world. They document the tragic consequences of U.S. imperialism, the commission of war crimes, and the decimation of civil liberties under the guise of the ‘war on terror’. This work should give us pause whenever we are asked to uncritically accept the idea of American exceptionalism. " (Marjorie Cohn, author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law)

About the Author

Oliver Stone has won numerous Academy Awards for his work on such iconic films as Platoon, Wall Street, JFK, Born on the Fourth of July, Natural Born Killers, Salvador, and W.

Peter Kuznick is a professor of history and director of the award-winning Nuclear Studies Institute at American University and is currently serving his third term as distinguished lecturer with the Organization of American Historians. He has written extensively about science and politics, nuclear history, and Cold War culture.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Objective History Sept. 28 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having a University Degree in History and being Canadian, which allows me to view American history at a distance I would say that this book is one of the most objective histories of the United States I have read. Unlike many other American History books which bury the historical context of a time or event under American values and views (such as patriotism, freedom, individuality, self determination, etc,,,, ad nauseum) "The Untold History of the United States" presents all the facts of the event, from all perspectives. Much of what is written here is not new as it has been recorded in other historical texts from other nations but has been discredited by American Academia as "America Bashing". It is not a criticism of the United States to point out all the errors, misjudgements and false assumptions it has made historically which has caused tremendous upheaval in the world, its just the facts. If you are considering buying this book here is a simple test; Was America justified in involving itself in Vietnam and fighting the Vietnam War? If your answer is "yes" then this book is not for you. If you answered "No", then this book will give you the facts to support the established view that the Vietnam War is recognized globally as an American Political and Military disaster, which wasted the lifes of American soldiers for no clear gain.
An excellent history book, Americans need to step out side their self righteous bubble and read it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
After hardly being able to put the book down, I finished reading "The Untold History of the United States" and realized that I will have to read it again. The amount of information contained in these pages is overwhelming; the absolutely horrifying descriptors of events which have occurred during that last seventy+ years which could easily have resulted in the end of life on Earth are terrifying. This is a must read for every thinking human being. The amount of absolute power invested in our politicians is equally nerve-wracking, and reading of their abuses of this power and their fallible personalities is illuminating. I recommend this book without qualification--and hope that those buttons controlling potential nuclear destruction of our planet will disappear completely.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good Dec 21 2012
By PhilR
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The only weakness was the occasional lack of credit. The introduction admitted that some good things had been done. The reader could have been reminded of that more often.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A take your time kind of book. March 12 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is not an easy read but the information is amazing...a lot of research went into this book. I am a writer and know about doing research.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Travelling in the States after Christmas, I caught an episode of the (companion) documentary on tv, and found it a bracing alternative to the usual blind jingoism that passes for commentary there. Most of the facts will be known to anyone who tends to read, and think, critically, but this is a good single volume exploration of American imperialism and the myth of exceptionalism which is often used to justify it. I cannot wait to be able to buy the documentary itself.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb analysis of the USA's imperial history! March 31 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the best, most complete analysis of the true history of American foreign and domestic policy that I've seen yet. It's a pity that most Americans get a completely different story from their schools, their leaders, and their mass media....not to mention their 2 giant phony political parties, who do not serve the people who elect them, but the rich elite who pay them off and control them through corporate lobbying. If you want to know about and understand the tremendous harm that USA imperial policy has done to Latin Americans, Asians, and Middle Eastern people, and indeed the entire world, in the last hundred years or more, read this book. It's a wakeup call.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stone and Kuznick Have Written a Masterpiece Feb. 24 2014
By Taser Me TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Just finished it yesterday. Whatever you might think of Stone as a director, storyteller, or conspiracy buff, this book makes the reader think, ask questions, refer to other source material, and seek further information to elaborate on what is contained in the book. Any book that has the power to move the reader in this manner has accomplished its mission.

One of the book's attractions is that it validated many of the suspicions that I have held for a long time, especially the senseless dropping of the atomic bombs during WW II.

I think the book does an excellent job of explaining the nightmare of nuclear war from when it began as a threat after WW II to the present. It makes for terrifying reading. I also suspect that many readers will feel real rage while reading these pages about how a select few megalomaniacs seriously considered killing the world with a nuclear war. .

I have the feeling that I am going to re-read the entire book or certain chapters of it to get a refresher. I have also ordered the DVD series of the book.

When I ordered this book it was with the expectation that it would inform me. It did far more than that, so it more than met my expectations.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!!!! Feb. 23 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is a unique view of USA's history. An eye opener !!!!!! I recommend the documentary as well.
Best thing Oliver Stone has ever done.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Untold History of the United States
This is a book that every American shold read. It would give them a darn good idea of how the US government is acting without their knowledge. It was for me an eye opener. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jean-Louis Viens
3.0 out of 5 stars Great book but difficult read
I felt like I was back in University reading A masters thesis. The information is great but the book is a difficult read... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Brenda Austin
4.0 out of 5 stars Oliver Sone's rant
A very good read. Although this is largely a leftist critique of American global policies it does bear reading. Read more
Published 8 months ago by JOHN LANT
5.0 out of 5 stars History is always a subjective viewpoint of past events...
As high school students we were given what I refer to as the `hero and industrial giant history textbooks'. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Ronald W. Maron
5.0 out of 5 stars A great history lesson.
If you are genuinely open minded and curious about another way of looking at what has been taught as basic understanding of history this is a must read. Very well done. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Daniel Barry
5.0 out of 5 stars A glasnost rendition of USA history
No one can remain innocent and naïve after learning facts contained in this volume even when it's many truths sicken and disturb. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Peter Heise
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the pages is one big black ink smear!
I will only be satisfied if I am sent another copy. I will return the flawed copy but at no expense to myself.
Published 15 months ago by Kevin Sloan
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