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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. The notion of American exceptionalism, dating back to John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon aboard the Arbella, still warps 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. 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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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. The notion of American exceptionalism, dating back to John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon aboard the Arbella, still warps 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. 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?

30 review for The Untold History of The United States

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mahmut Homsi

    I couldn't forget when the author said: "The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion (to which few members of other religions were converted) but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do." That sums up everything and truly makes sense..

  2. 4 out of 5

    JBradford

    I am very sure that I would normally take a very dim view of anyone who would review a book without having read it — I belong to an online recipe group, for example, and I am routinely incensed by people who will give a rating to a meal and say they are going to try it, which means they have not tried it yet and therefore have no idea what it actually tastes like. In this case, however, I have some idea, because I have had a taste. This is a 750-page book (including the bibliography and index) t I am very sure that I would normally take a very dim view of anyone who would review a book without having read it — I belong to an online recipe group, for example, and I am routinely incensed by people who will give a rating to a meal and say they are going to try it, which means they have not tried it yet and therefore have no idea what it actually tastes like. In this case, however, I have some idea, because I have had a taste. This is a 750-page book (including the bibliography and index) that I grabbed off the “new books” shelf of my local library but did not get around to before I got an email from the library saying it was time to bring it back. I managed to renew it for another week, but I was very much involved with a few other books at that time as well as with various and sundry other pursuits of my life, and it turned out I did not get around to actually looking at the book until I got the second request to bring it back, this time with no chance for renewal. I read the first chapter, and found myself absolutely intrigued. I then read through the last chapter, and found myself intrigued again. The first chapter effectively commits Republicans to perdition, and the last chapter does pretty much the same thing for Democrats — and somewhere in between, I gather, the authors want to tell us how we really screwed up by not electing Henry Wallace as president; since I feel very much the same way about Hubert Horatio Humphrey, I felt this was my kind of book. My concept of the star rating system for Goodreads is that three stars should be awarded to books that are entertaining, enjoyable, and informative … that two stars therefore should be applied to books that are less than that (hence, something that you shouldn’t bother with if there is a three-star book around to read instead), and that four stars should be applied to books that I better than all that (hence, something that you really ought to read if you get a chance) … and that a one-star rating accordingly should be applied to books that one should not bother with it all, while five stars, conversely, should go to books that you really must read — books that are so important or valuable that your life will be deprived if you don’t read them. It is important to note, therefore, that some books that get a five-star rating are not necessarily entertaining or enjoyable, but they are always informative. (Needless to say, I am not inclined to give five-star ratings to works of fiction, but I have found that I had to do so several times.) That is certainly true of this book. I certainly am not going to suggest in any way that I agree with everything that the authors say, and I am almost sure that during the course of reading the book I will come to the conclusion in some places that they have twisted the meaning of what people said or did, stretching it into meaning something other than reality. Despite that fact, I am already aware that the major push of the book is to tell us things we did not know about the political goings-on of our past and present, with these claims being backed up by validated statements and writings of the people involved. I am well aware of how dangerous this can be; I have seen too many examples of how such things can be twisted by opposing politicians in such cases as Supreme Court nominees. Despite that, the continuing refrain in my mind as I read through the first chapter and the last was “I did not know that.” I have friends that I know without a doubt would be completely turned off by this book and would decide very quickly that they did not believe a word of it. I cannot discard it that simply, however. As a matter of fact, my reaction when I received the second letter from the library was to take the book back to them posthaste … and then to go online and purchase my own copy, which is even now in the mail. I justify that because this is not a book for weekend reading; it is a book I will want on my library shelf so that I can return to it again and again for reference. I presume that after I received the book, I will eventually get around to reading it (I have no intention of taking it with me on my upcoming vacation cruise), and that I will at that time come back and make a more complete report. Meanwhile, you are to go get your own copy!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Scottnshana

    I think the utility of this book lies in what it is not. It's not all-encompassing, but a history of the 20th Century. It's also not objective, but everyone knows that when he/she sees who wrote it. I don't know if it is more comprehensive than its companion TV series, because I don't have cable and probably won't see it. I can say that it does hold a satisfactory argument that US foreign policy in ther 20th Century would be better served by Realism than by Wilsonian liberalism. I think there ar I think the utility of this book lies in what it is not. It's not all-encompassing, but a history of the 20th Century. It's also not objective, but everyone knows that when he/she sees who wrote it. I don't know if it is more comprehensive than its companion TV series, because I don't have cable and probably won't see it. I can say that it does hold a satisfactory argument that US foreign policy in ther 20th Century would be better served by Realism than by Wilsonian liberalism. I think there are also some good observations here that need to be communicated. The US needs a free, unbiased press, and if we ever had one we have some hard work ahead if we want to return to it. I also share the opinion that there were plenty of nefarious characters in the 20th Century who manipulated the country into war by bringing up the words "Munich" and (especially) "Appeasement," which is a bit like hitting the Easy Button for mobilizing people who learn everything from the TV. I think the book succinctly tackled Nixon's career and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and if you don't want to invest the time in Rick Perlstein's and Bob Woodward's books (respectively) on these topics, "The Untold History of the United States" will fill the bill. The book has some perspecives, though, that I just cannot embrace. First of all, the argument that the world would have been a much better place if FDR had picked Henry Wallace instead of Truman for his Vice President. In Chapter 4: "Wallace would have become president in 1945 and the course of history would have been dramatically altered. In fact, had that happened, there might have been no atomic bombings, no nuclear arms race, and no Cold War." This is a speculation that is more suited to the Marvel Comics "What If?" series and should be treated the same way as questions like "What if the Hulk tried to pick up Thor's hammer?," "What if Wolverine was a woman?," and "What if Al Gore was President during 9/11?" These questions stimulate debate amongst certain segments of society, but they rarely accomplish anything useful and anyone who says he has the definitive answer can be immediately dismissed as full of it. I guess Mssrs. Stone and Kuzick can rationalize this with their gentle treatment of Joseph Stalin; yes, the Soviets lost more territory and people in WWII than any other combatant, but Stalin and the people around him were some VERY nasty characters and President Truman scared the crap out of the battle-hardened Soviet Politburo--period. The Iron Curtain ended up where it did because Western leaders stopped it from moving further, and the Germans and Japanese preferred this for some pretty compelling reasons. I also think repeated implications that Truman was a bigot are a little disingenuous in light of his support for integrating the military and establishing the state of Israel. I'm also not real comfortable with the book's criticisms of Secretaries Clinton and Gates, nor do I view Private Bradley Manning, who broke his oath to protect US state secrets, as someone worthy of my sympathy. This book is useful, I think, as a foil to Max Boot's history of US participation in small wars. I don't particularly favor Boot's perspectives, either, but I do think that somewhere between Stone's characterization of the US as imperial exploitation engine and Boot's Neocon musings on America's foreign policy lies the truth.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alastair Rosie

    The Untold History of the United States By Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick Being raised in Australia, my late father instilled in us a love of America and all it stood for, freedom, democracy and above all, capitalism. He genuinely believed the ‘Communist domino’ would fall from Vietnam to Melbourne and the only nation that could prevent it were the noble Americans. I remember his rants against Russia and China, and had I not been a voracious reader, I may have followed his political leanings. But The Untold History of the United States By Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick Being raised in Australia, my late father instilled in us a love of America and all it stood for, freedom, democracy and above all, capitalism. He genuinely believed the ‘Communist domino’ would fall from Vietnam to Melbourne and the only nation that could prevent it were the noble Americans. I remember his rants against Russia and China, and had I not been a voracious reader, I may have followed his political leanings. But fate stepped in when I was ten and I read Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and I realised even at that age that history depended very much on who was telling the story. I too came to admire America but it was not the USA that my father adored. I came to view people like Jane Fonda, Daniel Ellsberg, and Oliver Stone as true patriots; my father saw them as traitors. The Untold History of the United States is a bit of a misnomer, as the promo for the X Files goes, ‘the truth is out there.’ It has been out there for decades but either unreported or under reported, until now. Stone and Kuznick’s history starts with the illegal annexation of Hawaii and takes us through America’s invasion of the Philippines, her entry into both World Wars and her emergence at the end as a global super power. They take us through the Cold War and tell us who started it and chronicle the White House’s love affair with right wing dictators, death squads and Islamic fundamentalism. It leaves us with the questionable legacy of the Obama administration and the inevitable conclusion that all is not well with this house of cards. I would take issue with those who think it idolises the Democrat party. On the contrary it does reveal the shortcomings of the Democrat administrations. Only Kennedy gets a good word in the lead up to that fateful November day but before that the authors don’t hold back on Kennedy either, so the Democrat bias as far as I can work out doesn’t exist in this book. Each administration is held up to the light of day and each one fails to come up to the standard. It could be argued that American foreign policy was also affected by British and Russian policy, amongst other nations but to chronicle another nation’s descent into madness would have made for a much larger book and to be honest, it’s a history of the USA not the world. It feels very much as if the authors have opened the windows and doors to a dark house of horrors, and maybe even knocked down a couple of walls to reveal the double dealing and corruption at the heart of the American Dream. To those like myself who have always distrusted the traditional print media the book won’t reveal that many new truths, to those who have tended to side with America it may even be inflammatory because the authors don’t hold back in their criticisms. The main focus is on foreign policy, one of the things successive administrations have usually failed at, but it also veers onto domestic policy with issues such as America’s complete lack of a national health service, making it truly unique in the industrialised world. Its love affair with big business and the unholy marriage between the corporate elite and Congress is laid out warts and all for the reader. At least thirty percent of my Kindle version is dedicated to an extensive bibliography, which invites you to explore different periods at your leisure and with over a century of American dominance the subject matter would probably fill a couple of libraries. It strikes me as I read it that this book should be read by foreign policy experts, particularly those in the White House. Sadly I’m not sure they do much reading at all but still one can still hope. With such a bloated military budget and an almost complete lack of credible threats one can’t help but wonder if a later edition of this book might be retitled, The Rise and Fall of the United States. As any student of history will tell you, an empire either collapses under its own weight or is subsumed by another empire.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Gault

    This is a worthwhile read. That being said, it was one of the most distressing and depressing books I've every read! We live in the Matrix. Most think America is a bastion of freedom and democracy. This is not at all the case. It is a story we tell ourselves. The facts show something very different. I wanted to stab my self repeatedly in the eyes with a rusty screwdriver! My rage was towering. Spinal fluid leaked from my ears as I sputtered in impotent anger. Nixon was worse than I thought! How i This is a worthwhile read. That being said, it was one of the most distressing and depressing books I've every read! We live in the Matrix. Most think America is a bastion of freedom and democracy. This is not at all the case. It is a story we tell ourselves. The facts show something very different. I wanted to stab my self repeatedly in the eyes with a rusty screwdriver! My rage was towering. Spinal fluid leaked from my ears as I sputtered in impotent anger. Nixon was worse than I thought! How is that even possible? This nation is ruled by greedy violent psychopaths. What's worse is they are not very bright. The violent blundering carnage over the last 100 years - and right up to today - is breathtaking. The only thing the plutocrat kakistocracy does competently is steal money and bamboozle the credulous with bread and circuses. I include Obama in this pack of bumblers. The current president has empowered the Military Industrial Complex and spy agencies in way that Dick Cheney could only dream of. Lest you think I exaggerate; I counted three instances where (in my lifetime) we were seconds away from a full on nuclear launch! When we dropped the atomic bomb on Japan they were desperately trying to surrender! Our government has routinely tortured people over the last century. The fight against Communism was a cure far worse than the disease, in lost lives, and lost freedoms. We've had rogue administrations that sold weapons and drugs to Iran to prop up fascist bastards in Central America. This depressing list of facts goes on and on. Everyone should know these things and almost nobody does. Perhaps the grim meat-hook reality is such a downer that most people would rather not know.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    First they stole the words, then they stole the meanings." George Orwell: 1984 Oliver Stone calls Trump 'a disaster' Watch here First they stole the words, then they stole the meanings." George Orwell: 1984 Oliver Stone calls Trump 'a disaster' Watch here

  7. 5 out of 5

    Donald

    This was an incredible book! Although this is a bit of a tome, coming in at 615 pages, it was fast-paced and incredibly interesting - no, it was incredibly SHOCKING! The book moves chronologically from World War 1 to the Obama administration. The emphasis is usually on how each Administration reacted to the American Empire, which was initiated in 1898. Much of the material centers on the US-Soviet relationship and how there were numerous occasions that that relationship could have been vastly im This was an incredible book! Although this is a bit of a tome, coming in at 615 pages, it was fast-paced and incredibly interesting - no, it was incredibly SHOCKING! The book moves chronologically from World War 1 to the Obama administration. The emphasis is usually on how each Administration reacted to the American Empire, which was initiated in 1898. Much of the material centers on the US-Soviet relationship and how there were numerous occasions that that relationship could have been vastly improved and the Cold War avoided, along with the nuclear nightmare which still haunts us. One of the heroes of the book is Henry Wallace, the 3rd Vice president to FDR. At the Democratic convention for FDR's 4th term, the Backroom politicos decided that Wallace was too Progressive for their tastes. Through a lot of skullduggery, Harry Truman was chosen, a choice that, the book shows, poisoned the rest of the century for the US. Truman was much like GW Bush, an arrogant, self-important cretin who couldn't "walk and chew gum at the same time." Truman was a machine-party hack whose political mentor spent Truman's presidency in Federal Prison. Wallace, on the other hand, was a visionary whose writings can be read today with the same power as when they were originally written. Wallace was a thinker and a problem solver, not the sort of ideologues that have so utterly destroyed the United States. Truman, like his successors, completely failed to understand the Soviet's concerns during and after WWW2. The same ignorance is being repeated in the 'War on Terrorism." My biggest surprise in the book - other than the Wallace/Truman revelation- was that a political officer on a Russian Sub during the Cub an Missile Crisis actually saved Humanity by not responding to the effect of a depth charge and releasing his nuclear rockets. I very Highly recommend this book. Would that it be mandatory reading in High School and a prerequisite before stepping into the Voting Booth.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Josh Liller

    This book was recommended to me, but I felt very reluctant to read it because Oliver Stone is synonymous with shoddy history. I don't equate Showtime with historical accuracy either (the cover bills this book as the companion to the Showtime documentary series). I decieded to start with the topic I knew best: the decision to use the atomic bombs against Japan. Stone is clearly anti-bomb, but I feel he leans too heavily on Gar Alperovitz' "The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture o This book was recommended to me, but I felt very reluctant to read it because Oliver Stone is synonymous with shoddy history. I don't equate Showtime with historical accuracy either (the cover bills this book as the companion to the Showtime documentary series). I decieded to start with the topic I knew best: the decision to use the atomic bombs against Japan. Stone is clearly anti-bomb, but I feel he leans too heavily on Gar Alperovitz' "The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of An American Myth" and Tsuyoshi Hasegawa's "Racing The Enemy" and doesn't give enough credence to Richard Frank's "Downfall" and, unless I missed it, no attention to Max Hasting's "Retribution". I think there is also too much psychoanalyzing of Truman and the discussion of Japanese internment (intended to show anti-Japanese racism, I guess) feels very tangential. This book is quick to dismiss Truman and others for self-serving defense of the atomic bombs after they happened, but doesn't seem to appreciate many anti-bomb people in high places had their opinions formed after the fact. Who knew what in the case is less important than when they knew it; it's easy to revolt in horror of atomic warfare after you've seen it but nobody at the time truly knew what they were dealing with until after the bombs had been dropped. For me, this chapter was a litmus test and I feel it has failed so I wont be reading the rest of it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    John

    Can't do it... I just can't finish reading THE UNTOLD (not really) HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES. Look, Oliver Stone is arguably my favorite film director, but, as a historian, his views are skewed by his unwavering devotion to a pro-socialist/anti-capitalist agenda. His simplistic tendency to blame everything on capitalists gets old after a while. When comparing the "facts" in this book with conflicting information found in other historical accounts, Stone & Co. (to me, at least) always seem to wi Can't do it... I just can't finish reading THE UNTOLD (not really) HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES. Look, Oliver Stone is arguably my favorite film director, but, as a historian, his views are skewed by his unwavering devotion to a pro-socialist/anti-capitalist agenda. His simplistic tendency to blame everything on capitalists gets old after a while. When comparing the "facts" in this book with conflicting information found in other historical accounts, Stone & Co. (to me, at least) always seem to wind up with the weaker argument--partly because the book covers too much ground to be able to back up its claims with the proper factual support. Often, the writers just throw something out there and expect readers to accept it at face value. Now, I'll admit there's an awful lot this book gets right. Its treatment of Woodrow Wilson, for example, was excellent. On the other hand, I would call Stone's deep regard for Franklin Roosevelt misguided to say the least (read THE POLITICALLY INCORRECT GUIDE TO THE GREAT DEPRESSION AND THE NEW DEAL). So, I'm quitting the book early. Life is just too short to make reading this 900-page tome worthwhile.

  10. 4 out of 5

    MickthePaddy

    cannot recommend highly enough. if there were parts of american history that didn't quite make sense to you, this book will help in that regard. after all, how can you learn anything by just reading celebratory hagiographies? much more interesting and comprehensive than the documentaries on showtime (although they are a good addition). i can see how the "fox nooz" type may not like this book, but it is certainly worth reading. the best i've read in a long time.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jackie Glenn

    I found this book enthralling. It provides an entirely different outlook on the past presidents and their times. It also left me extremely angry that most of the presidents and the people under them caused so much havoc in the world and at such terrible cost that could have been put to constructive use elsewhere - even to alleviate poverty in the United States. I think all Americans should read this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kamil Salamah

    I would start by saying it could also be titled: " The Rise and Very Serious Highly Probable Impending Fall of the Empire of the Age: that has refused to recognize it's imperialistic designs". The Yale historian Paul Kennedy spelled it out;" From the time the first settlers arrived in Virginia from England and started moving westward, this was an IMPERIAL nation, a conquering nation." What a great unraveling of a timeline of history's most POWERFUL EMPIRE ever; dwarfing all others that have come I would start by saying it could also be titled: " The Rise and Very Serious Highly Probable Impending Fall of the Empire of the Age: that has refused to recognize it's imperialistic designs". The Yale historian Paul Kennedy spelled it out;" From the time the first settlers arrived in Virginia from England and started moving westward, this was an IMPERIAL nation, a conquering nation." What a great unraveling of a timeline of history's most POWERFUL EMPIRE ever; dwarfing all others that have come before it.An Empire that sky rocketed at tremendous speed and and is facing the flicking of its sheen and glamor: perhaps will go in history being one of the shortest( considering others). It made its imperialist designs be felt going back to its annexation of the harbor of the Pacific island of Pago Pago in 1889 and built a new navy between 1890 and 1896.Fast forward to the 21st century, this Empire has over 1000 bases strung across the planet. In 2012, anthropologist David Vine confirmed this: costing $250 billion annually. Still the official party line is " We Americans are NOT IMPERIALISTIC"!!!! America has declined because of this. it is suffering massive financial debts to its nemesis:China. Why?.. because of their unofficial design of being "the Empire": a costly enterprise. America has long been highjacked by its elites and its military: the corporate industrial military complex.In 2010, it spent $1.6 TRILLION over revenues in its $3.8 budget. debt service alone cost $250 billion annually; mainly to China( who now is the 2nd world economy and has America by the throat). The military budget is over $1 trillion. Actually the USA spends over $1.2 TRILLION out of its $3 TRILLION annual budget on defense. This approximately equals what the rest of the world spends. U.S. military spending consumes about 44% of ALL U.S. tax revenues: moneys taken away from the good common American citizens. This has inflicted MASSIVE suffering and pain on the lives of the American public to live their normal civic lives. Again, this book proves that HUBRIS and "Overreach" is the DEATH sentence of ALL nations that are bent on EMPIRE building: a system that has consistently FAILED by ALL who have tried it. Respect of other nations, races, cultures, religions,and coexistence in harmony is what humanity DEMANDS. Aggression and blood shedding NEVER amounted to PEACE. It only proliferates MORE hatred, aggression, death and destruction. As an American Congressman noted," Did all this spending make Americans safer?"

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tim Pendry

    A health warning is due on this book. It is a polemic linked to a documentary. Usually that should be cause enough for caution but it is generally well written and researched, valuable as a corrective to the standard internal narrative about US foreign policy which is somewhat Pollyanna-ish. Stone's propensity for conspiracy theory and a curious hagiography surrounding the John F. Kennedy who might have been (reflected briefly in this book) is corrected by a solid research team clearly under the A health warning is due on this book. It is a polemic linked to a documentary. Usually that should be cause enough for caution but it is generally well written and researched, valuable as a corrective to the standard internal narrative about US foreign policy which is somewhat Pollyanna-ish. Stone's propensity for conspiracy theory and a curious hagiography surrounding the John F. Kennedy who might have been (reflected briefly in this book) is corrected by a solid research team clearly under the able direction of Peter Kuznick and, no doubt, guided by Stone himself. The result has flaws - too kind to the Russians while the balance shifts into contemporary polemic in the final chapters on Bush and Obama. We have mentioned the over favourable approach to JFK. But these flaws, denying it five stars, do not detract from the achievement. This is a book that I would like to see in every American high school library, not as the main set text but simply as an intelligent corrective to the conformist almost totalitarian educational training of Americans in the myth of their own cultural and political beneficence. The best recent history of the US that I have found was critical but measured and by a fellow Brit - David Reynolds' America: Empire of Liberty - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... - but Reynolds' vision is definitely not that of Americans themselves. This is why Stone and Kuznick have done their fellow citizens a service in the age of Sanders, Clinton and Trump. They have held up a mirror to American foreign and international economic policy and shown us an imperial system out of educated democratic control run by psychopaths. It is rare that I feel much emotion in reading a book nowadays but I found myself seething with anger at times - on the decision-making around Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on the murderous assault on Gautemalan freedom and, of course, the lunacy of Vietnam and MAD. I used the term psychopath. It is a term I usually avoid using because it over-simplifies the brutal things some people have to do in existential situations and is too easily applied to people stuck in a system like bankers or brokers but here the term often applies. Some of the activities of the American State, often deliberately obfuscating its actions before the democratic process, often manipulating and subverting it and often backed by legislators whose ignorance can only be put down to the force of ideology, are, frankly and simply, evil. Yes, evil. This is not to say that most American public servants are evil but then I suspect most ordinary Communist apparatchiki or Nazi civil servants were not intrinsically evil but all served systems that accepted evil acts against civilians and lies to their own people as normal and right. You will have to make up your own mind after reading this catalogue of horrors and lies but, before getting over excited, you should balance the book with some reading of other texts with a more sanguine view of American exceptionalism and belief in its being a 'beacon on the hill'. The honest truth is that this book falls precisely into the American trap of seeing everything as black and white rather than many shades of grey. It is the dark to the sunny light of the standard American narrative but that does not make it right. One yearns for a balanced view. Yet facts are still facts. It is hard to reason away many American State actions which were the more criminal in being based on bad intelligence, poor judgement and the taking of risks that might have led to the immolation of our species let alone tens of thousands of passing peasants. OK, so the US won and the spectre of communism has now degenerated into a few elderly socialists who can't muster majorities anywhere but the price, as I read it, was too high. It degraded America itself decade on decade until degeneracy became the national norm. Victory was Pyrrhic. Forgetting the overblown tirade against Obama here (although it is true that he is now mere creature of a system created by his predecessors), each President, perhaps excluding FDR and Clinton I, is held up to scrutiny and found wanting. Bush II was far from uniquely dodgy. Indeed, one of the benefits of this book is that it cuts through the partisan nonsense and shows us that Democrats and Republicans are really not much better than each other when push comes to shove - though the silence here suggests Clinton I was perhaps a bright point through inaction. If this is an argument for Clinton II, however, I can't find it in her pronouncements or the text. For some reason, she is a 'hawk' far to the Right of Obama and not quite so different from the world of Bush II as naive Democrats would like to think. She terrifies me ... As for Trump, words should fail but at least he has the merit of possibly, just possibly, not being answerable to an establishment machinery backing sustained state violence, one that is clearly horrified by his candidacy. If the system is horrified by him, he may have merit! The American propensity to concentrate on the individual (the President) misses the point that he is always embedded in a system and that this system is imperial, concerned with economic loot and highly militarised. The noble gestures and rhetoric are just icing on a mouldy cake. The Generals answer to the Commander-in-Chief but he is trapped into compliance with the cultural expectations of competitive but closely knit networks made up of surprisingly few ideologically motivated people with an axe to grind. Stone and Kuznick bring out the continuities where a few hundred ambitious careerists, lost in abstract models of foreign policy, float like trash on a registered electorate of 153 million souls and coldly and blithely dispose of the lives of others without any existential self-questioning. One suspects that the system both attracts and promotes a personality type perfectly fitted to serve it as all such systems do - just as the Roman, British and Soviet Empires created their unself-reflective 'types'. There is no reason why the US should be different in this. What seems to be lacking in the contemporary historiography is an analysis of careers, patronage, ideology formation, interests and connections, such as Lewis Namier once did for the eighteenth century British Parliament - ideology is not top down but centred in group-think. As with Namier, such a historian might find that this closed elite shared a 'weltanschauung' but pursued self interest within it - questioning nothing but seeking to combine through allegiance to networks (parties) that scarcely differed from each other except in their competition for benefits. Namier's analysis of a grasping and self interested elite left little room for ideas but eighteenth century Britain did not 'progress' to the American situation where ideas, linked existentially to identity, might become weapons of advantage. Ideas have here paradoxically displaced humanity. The question is whether Americans who read the standard narrative, the non-American neutral narrative and the dissident native narrative (this book) would still want to change a decayed system that thinks its eighteenth century constitution is sufficient protection against evil. It was in 1973 that Arthur M. Schlesinger coined the term for the Imperial Presidency as something uncontrollable and prone to exceed constitutional limits. Yet it is that constitution that permits those excesses - taken even further by Bush II and even (as the authors argue) by Obama. What either Clinton II or Trump could do with these excessive powers (of which a first taste lay in that most sinister of Democratic 'progressive' Presidents Woodrow Wilson) is perhaps what is keeping many centrist liberals awake at night with reason. Neither fills one with hope. The truth is that liberal Americans are still stuck in their eighteenth century and 'rights' paradigm as Roman intellectuals were once stuck in their republican and 'virtu' ideology as they lurched stage by stage towards Tiberius and Caligula. In the end, all a Roman could hope for was that the Emperor be a good one. American liberals have found themselves in the same situation, hoping against hope that the next President will be a 'good one'. As Stone and Kuznick show, that is not a likely outcome. Even Carter gets a coruscating treatment here that does not allow his later saintly persona to get in the way of the facts. Perhaps Clinton I's scarce mention only arises because he was uninterested in foreign policy and Bush I (the best since FDR) had done all the work in apparently taming Russia. So, all in all, with the caveats, an eye-opening book that might further radicalise the young but not, I hope, into a futile faith in some man in a white hat appearing in the Oval Office but into beginning to think like a European and move from individuals to a critique of the total system. There is something eighteenth century even today about a monarchical/imperial executive capable of great and monstrous crimes that yet seem not to stir the consciences of the vast number of Americans. Obviously many radicals who voted for Sanders were stirred but he lost! Americans might be engineered to be horrified by Aleppo perhaps because it is the Russians 'doing it' but not enormously by Falluja or Gaza. One suspects the complaints about Vietnam owed far more to the fears of narcissistic hippies than concern for the slaughter of the Vietnamese. Sometimes the US was existentially threatened: we must respect its desire for survival and cohesion. Sometimes it acted out of for greed which at least is comprehensible. Sometimes it killed for a theory or a dream or an idea. Frankly, that last makes it not much better than the Soviets.

  14. 4 out of 5

    monsieurschlaubsen

    3,5 ⭐️

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tadas Talaikis

    This book in one sentence: "India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru publicly described U.S. leaders a “dangerous self-centered lunatics” who would “blow up any people or country who came in the way of their policy.” House of Commons Debate, fifth series, vol. 525 O.M.C., I almost went crazy posting so many U.S. crimes on my FB. The "funniest" thing is when "liberals" (Hillary Clinton) are back to back with war criminals, like Henry Kissinger. They're all f*cked up psychopaths, no wonder American p This book in one sentence: "India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru publicly described U.S. leaders a “dangerous self-centered lunatics” who would “blow up any people or country who came in the way of their policy.” House of Commons Debate, fifth series, vol. 525 O.M.C., I almost went crazy posting so many U.S. crimes on my FB. The "funniest" thing is when "liberals" (Hillary Clinton) are back to back with war criminals, like Henry Kissinger. They're all f*cked up psychopaths, no wonder American people don't even have universal health like any other ("socialist") nation does. This craze with "our way of life" goes too far away. As a "psychologist" I can understand that, - people, due to their croc-brains, approve authorities. The harder some alpha-crocs ("hitlers") cream about some fanatic fantastic idiocy (some nonsense ideology, any ideology), the more approval you get from submissive infantile or aggressive beta-crocodiles. My illusions about sanity in U.S. vanished even more. Let's see if we would not awake one day and not find theocratic dictatorship, like in The handmaid's tale, forcing to sleep with "commodores" (of god) for the "higher cause". People are f*cking blind, where their ideologies and beliefs go. Always been. On philosophical note, why do people/did I believed in America's values? Simple - media propaganda. Everything is clogged with Hollywood sh*t and CNN bulls*it. A lot of time was required to decrypt everything (trading helped a lot, because in trading no ideology or belief would work) into more realistic terms - crocodiles love power (and money, that also gives some power). We're genetically programmed killer animals. Everything else is just comfort fantasies. That's why I consider Hominids revolutionary, it paints a much better picture than we have today. Probably all aggressive animals should be castrated. That would make a world better place, but the means are still wrong, probably. Like Ayn Rand said, everything evil is after "higher (better world) cause". So, a lot had happened in my head during those days, when I read this book, would probably also watch the series, too much to be said here, so saving time I will only note. We already have 1984, or Animal Farm or Brave New World. Sex redefined by Clinton, freedom redefined by Bush and hostilities redefined by Obama. What's for people, like us? Forget democrats and republicans, liberals or conservatives, those are wrong ideologies. All ideologies are wrong, like all models in trading are wrong, and only, as beliefs, help to power-seekers, not you. Power for the people. American empire is on decline already, no one does what U.S. dictators want anymore. How much imperial industrial military complex can go with its wasteful economics? I don't know, but history tells stories about people overthrowing them, when life becomes unbearable. Once again, US Has Killed More Than 20 Million People in 37 “Victim Nations” Since World War II.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Goes out of its way to be revisionist, and never leaves the boot not put in... Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Kissinger, the Reagan and Bush slam-dunks, Obama and Afghanistan - none are spared, and it's entertaining to read such a sustained case against them all, perhaps over a liberty sandwich and freedom fries. Now I need to go and read something else to get a more balanced view.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Andre

    One thing can be said right away: If you are an "America is the best ever" person, this book will be your nightmare. However I do not quite understand why, since the authors don't really say so much new stuff actually, they simple put what was previously told in several books into one and especially Stone's name gave it wide attention. They have a lot in it that is technically known simply overshadowed by a lot of myths, which makes books like this one important. However I think covering such a lo One thing can be said right away: If you are an "America is the best ever" person, this book will be your nightmare. However I do not quite understand why, since the authors don't really say so much new stuff actually, they simple put what was previously told in several books into one and especially Stone's name gave it wide attention. They have a lot in it that is technically known simply overshadowed by a lot of myths, which makes books like this one important. However I think covering such a long time period comes at the cost of never going into detail (e.g. if a fellow German is reading this and happens to be Sinti… yeah forget it, the book ignores you like most do), but I don't think you can blame the authors for it since the book covers more than 100 years of USA history and it already has more than 650 pages of text, not counting notes and bibliography. Going into more detail would probably turn this into a book 3-times the size of the Bible. So like I said, they do not go into too much detail except for big turning points but rather are concerned with the patterns that emerge and continue. And I think in that way they are doing a pretty good job, you can question their conclusions and since this was coauthored by Oliver Stone I am sure many will mistrust his methods, but not the facts; and in my eyes that is no different to any other author of history books. What this book tackles in its basis is the myth of American exceptionalism and I guess that might piss a lot of people off since it really doesn't shy away from doing it, ever. Reading this there is a good chance that you will find a lot of your views are challenged, which I liked about the book but others will probably hate. However I am sure most will agree where the book is undoubtedly good: The writing and reading flow. Despite all the information it never felt boring to me and the reading experience was without a doubt good and made this very enjoyable, a lot of history books should do it like this. There are some problems with it though, for instance they say in World War II 27 Million Russians died, which wass actually Soviets (which they did right in the documentary series, where they had the forced mass migration that was missing here), which I think was due to the common trap of equating Soviets with Russians, others would be the Tiananmen square massacres whose numbers are contested and also it treats it like just a student's massacre, which is not true since most died all around Beijing, however the info on that is usually scarce so maybe that is the reason. It also looked as if they regarded Japanese people as dark-skinned and if that is what they did then I wonder what they consider light then. But these were minor things. Also, despite what many say, this book was in some way actually even nicer to American foreign policy than it probably should be, e.g. it never mentioned the thousands of instances of rape in Okinawa by American soldiers or the collecting of body parts as trophies (which might be linked to the practice of scalping during the Wild West) and glossed over a few things about Vietnam. So like I said it's actually nicer than many think. Also not all chapters do equally well, the passages on Bush & Clinton may have been the worst with 9/11 getting stronger again, but the prologue was also very good and made me interested in history more. But despite its flaws, again nothing new for me regarding history books, I think is definitely a recommendable book. At the very least it would get readers to rethink much of what they thought they knew about USA policy, and possibly their own country's policy, over the last century.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jerry

    It was a very thought provoking book. Although at times the authors seem to deem that the democratic party was the only way to advance peaceful liberalism. They idolized Kennedy to some extent, and seemed to want to do the same thing with Obama. However, they were also realistic to the fact that the presidency from World War I through modern times has bent to the will of militarism and big corporations without seeming to care about the "little" guy. Overall a good read and an eye opener for thos It was a very thought provoking book. Although at times the authors seem to deem that the democratic party was the only way to advance peaceful liberalism. They idolized Kennedy to some extent, and seemed to want to do the same thing with Obama. However, they were also realistic to the fact that the presidency from World War I through modern times has bent to the will of militarism and big corporations without seeming to care about the "little" guy. Overall a good read and an eye opener for those who have not studied the "other" side of history, the dark side.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dee Halzack

    Excellent, though upsetting book. Some of it I knew, some I didn't. Worth reading for anyone who wants to understand our relationship with Iran, Russia, Japan, and Latin America.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Madeline O'Rourke

    "Wow, so I read The Untold History of the United States over a four month period, reading a couple of pages every day. After spending so much time with the book, I've probably lost a good deal of objectivity in evaluating it, but here we are, anyway. If you expect this book to be impartial, look for another book. Just like the name suggests, The Untold History of the United States truly seeks to publicise elements of US history that are often overlooked. Stone and Kuznick really focus on the pre "Wow, so I read The Untold History of the United States over a four month period, reading a couple of pages every day. After spending so much time with the book, I've probably lost a good deal of objectivity in evaluating it, but here we are, anyway. If you expect this book to be impartial, look for another book. Just like the name suggests, The Untold History of the United States truly seeks to publicise elements of US history that are often overlooked. Stone and Kuznick really focus on the presidents from World War I onwards, and present both domestic and foreign policy for critique. The only president who really gets away unscathed is JFK. Even Obama's chapter (which focuses on his first term, given the book's 2012 publication) absolutely condemns many of his actions, which I personally hadn't expected. I can't really speak to the quality of research in this book, but Kuznick is an academic, so I suppose it has to be pretty good. Of course, it is all used in a very partial way, but Kuznick and Stone never pretend like impartiality was the goal. In highlighting the "untold history" of the US, the book was always necessarily going to be a critique of the US government and especially, US presidents. It doesn't try to balance the bad with the good any given president might have done, it just presents the bad as it was (and it could be pretty bad). Overall, I can't say that I loved spending four months reading The Untold History of the United States, but I definitely gained from it. Reading this alongside my studies in international relations and international security was very helpful and I certainly think I'll return to this for reference in the future.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Valoren

    Please note that this book is meant to be a companion to a documentary series of the same name which I haven’t seen. I’m reviewing this book on its own merits, as a work of historical nonfiction and journalism. I have never seen a book that eviscerates and lays bare so many ugly scandals, secrets, and dirty dealings also manage to be so painfully fucking dull. I’d be impressed if I thought it was intentional. Oliver Stone’s The Untold History of the United States is a work of historical nonfiction Please note that this book is meant to be a companion to a documentary series of the same name which I haven’t seen. I’m reviewing this book on its own merits, as a work of historical nonfiction and journalism. I have never seen a book that eviscerates and lays bare so many ugly scandals, secrets, and dirty dealings also manage to be so painfully fucking dull. I’d be impressed if I thought it was intentional. Oliver Stone’s The Untold History of the United States is a work of historical nonfiction that purports to shine a light on the darkened corners of our nation’s history and provide the reader with an unbiased and unflinching exposé of information that those in power would prefer remain unspoken and unexamined. In this, it’s moderately successful. The book could have been more appropriately titled The Untold History of the Presidency, since the central focus of every chapter is on the executive branch, and especially the actions of the executive branch as they relate to America’s role in various theaters of warfare, from World War I through the Obama administration. So immediately, this book is a misnomer twice over: the “history” barely pays any attention to the 18th and 19th centuries, and it is less the history of the United States then of the presidency and United States imperialism. And let me just say, this book is comprehensive. Arguably to its own detriment. Stone has penned a massive tome that is overflowing with direct quotations, photographs, and letters, which is appropriate given its status as a companion piece to a documentary series. Unfortunately, a good deal of context is lost in the process of unpacking all this minutia. One walks away with the vague impression that all our presidents have been bastards for one reason or another and that America has been on a quest of imperialism that happily grinds the lives of non-Americans into grist for more than a century. One could refer to the book to come up with compelling evidence to support these assertions if prompted, but under the weight of this over 700 page news article, what’s lost is a sense of gravity and context but I believe the authors could have easily achieved if they had made the effort. As it stands, the entire book feels a bit like listening to someone drone on about a negative experience with a mutual acquaintance and expecting you to share their outrage. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with that, but it would be more effective if the actual story was a bit more engaging, and if the call to action was clearer. But unfortunately the prose of this work is dense to the point of monotony, and the call to action - that is, the thing which the writer hopes that you will think, feel, or do after having read this work - is a wafer-thin afterthought. As a work, it seems to presuppose that aggravating your sense of outrage that these things happened at all will propel you to…I don’t know, vote? Not vote? Riot? It isn't made very clear. Furthermore, for being “untold”, much of the content in this book is fairly common knowledge to all but the rosiest, jingoistic patriots. Examples include the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the fact that Russia was overwhelmingly responsible for defeating the Nazis, the fact that most wars the United States has participated in have been acts of imperialistic resource grabbing, and that a handful of wealthy oligarchs continue to rig the game of politics in their favor so that they can never lose. There was a great deal within this book that I didn’t know already, certainly, and it’s far from useless, or even bad. It is, however, tremendously bloated, dull as dishwater, and sorely lacking in context that would have imparted upon this work some meaning greater than the sum of its parts, and something greater than the disquieting knowledge that the office of the presidency requires a great deal of unfortunate compromise, and that America has been ever concerned with extending its power and grasp via the use of the military-industrial complex. Since the average reader does not exert any influence over either of these institutions, both of which remain a continuous source of influence upon the lives of most citizens, the fact that this book basically ends nowhere is especially disappointing. I’d recommend this book if you’re very keen to learn about American history, especially the history of the presidency and of America’s wars from the perspective of somebody who is not an apologist for American imperialism. Read as a companion to Zinn’s The People’s History of the United States, I think this book could really shine as a way of showing the causal relationship between what those in power were thinking and feeling at various episodes in our nation’s strained history, and then referring to Zinn to see how those policies actually unrolled on the ground. On its own, The Untold History of the United States is a frank and comprehensive exploration of American imperialism from the perspective of someone who is very critical (not undeservedly so) of American expansionist ideology. It’s a dreadful shame that so salacious a subject should be given such a boring treatment.

  22. 5 out of 5

    C. Scott

    I finally finished this monster! The documentary series was good. This is better. Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States is one of the most important books I've ever read. It opened my eyes to the mythologizing that frequently passes for US history. Another important book that built on those insights was Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen, who noticed what sets American history class apart from the rest of an American's education. In chemistry you have a textbook called "Chem I finally finished this monster! The documentary series was good. This is better. Howard Zinn's People's History of the United States is one of the most important books I've ever read. It opened my eyes to the mythologizing that frequently passes for US history. Another important book that built on those insights was Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen, who noticed what sets American history class apart from the rest of an American's education. In chemistry you have a textbook called "Chemistry." In math you might have a textbook titled "Trigonometry" or "Calculus." In US history class you're likely to have a textbook called "Land of Promise," "Rise of the American Nation," or "The Great Republic." The myth-making starts right there on the cover of the book. The traditional story of American history is never a warts-and-all recounting of a checkered past. Most often American history is treated as a celebration and a triumph. Most often American history is a whitewash that reveals nothing. The Untold History of the United States by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznik is a continuation of efforts by people like Zinn and Loewen. Stone and Kuznik try to build a counter-narrative that acts as a sort of antidote to the traditional History Channel version of American back-patting. Picking up around the turn of the 20th Century this book tells a winding tale of American imperialism and domination that is elided in the mainstream version of events. Heroes like Henry Wallace emerge and are sidelined at crucial moments. Prominent forks in the road that could have seriously changed the course of history are highlighted. This is a fascinating look both at what actually happened and what might have been if different choices were made. I learned a great deal of new information about World War II, the decision to drop the atomic bomb, the Vietnam War, and even modern history featuring the War on Terror and Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. I'm glad I put in the time to finish reading this book. Howard Zinn once said, "History is important. If you don't know history it is as if you were born yesterday. And if you were born yesterday, anybody up there in a position of power can tell you anything, and you have no way of checking up on it." It is important to know the true history of this country. You can't learn from the past if you don't know about the past. The American people are deliberately discouraged from learning the truth about what our government has done in our name because the people in power know we wouldn't like it. Read this book. Start learning the truth. Only when we know our true history can we begin to move in a new and better direction. Otherwise, as the old cliche says, we are doomed to repeat it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    John

    If this book has taught me one thing it is the lack of knowledge I have on America history. Or for that matter the history of the last 100 years. Based on this book the last good President was Franklin Roosevelt. All the rest have been captured by right wing zealots including Obama. If only Henry Wallace has still been the Vice President when Roosevelt died. Then the world would have been a better place. Instead since then all the Presidents have been captured by business and the wealthy. The sc If this book has taught me one thing it is the lack of knowledge I have on America history. Or for that matter the history of the last 100 years. Based on this book the last good President was Franklin Roosevelt. All the rest have been captured by right wing zealots including Obama. If only Henry Wallace has still been the Vice President when Roosevelt died. Then the world would have been a better place. Instead since then all the Presidents have been captured by business and the wealthy. The scary thing is the insanity of building more nuclear weapons and they were considered for so many wars. Also how America due to its incredible badly informed policy decisions is now distrusted basically globally. Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, well just stick a pin in a map. The one hero that comes out of this book is Gorbachev. If only Reagan at the Iceland conference had accepted his plan. The book lacked a bit of detail on the Clinton presidency and others but overall was excellent. This analysis of the American Empire and its failure to live up to its own democratic ideals is an eye opener.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ben Everhart

    A comprehensive and thoughtful primer on the massive stranglehold the military industrial complex has on our modern world. This isn't a book laden with conspiracy theories or secret uncovered documents -- this is all heavily foot-noted, backed up and triple checked history that brings the reader from the early 20th century all the way into the Obama era. But the revelations within the pages are startling nonetheless: the economics of war have been driving the machine and the sad truth is that th A comprehensive and thoughtful primer on the massive stranglehold the military industrial complex has on our modern world. This isn't a book laden with conspiracy theories or secret uncovered documents -- this is all heavily foot-noted, backed up and triple checked history that brings the reader from the early 20th century all the way into the Obama era. But the revelations within the pages are startling nonetheless: the economics of war have been driving the machine and the sad truth is that the hawks don't need to mount a massive conspiracy because the majority just aren't paying attention. A good start to what's been really going on is reading this book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    John

    Americas is bad. Soviet Union was good. There were always progressives around with the correct policies, decisions, and ideas to save the U. S. from itself but, they were always ignored or shoved aside. That's the book in a couple of sentences. It is interesting reading. Wish I had the dedication to research all the citations as I don't trust statements taken from their broader context.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kieran Seán Fitzpatrick

    Starts to get a little "opinion-ey" towards the 80's and 90's. As long as you read it with a grain of salt, it's a great critical-thinking counter point to the US history we (at least I) learned in school. Should be required high school reading.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

    A fairly depressing read that manages to detail all the ways the United States could have lead the world into dynamic egalitarianism ... and chose not to at every turn, instead constantly bowing to the dark side of imperialism. Nearly single handily, the United States has brought the world to the brink of disaster we are teetering on today, and it is indeed difficult to see how we pull it out this time.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    A fascinating and erudite look at the darker side of US history in the 20th and 21st Century. Well written, balanced and informative, this eschews simplistic good/bad narratives in favour of a nuanced and reflective approach to the times being discussed and the motives of the protagonists. Well worth a read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    When America sneezes, most of the Western world catches a cold. Across the pond here in England, this allusion is particularly magnified. Ever since the US entry into World War 2 our political, economic, military and cultural paths have been closely intertwined. This is best exemplified in the so-called 'special relationship' that exists between our two nations and was first heralded by Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1946. Hence, the key American policy events of the 20th century and beyond When America sneezes, most of the Western world catches a cold. Across the pond here in England, this allusion is particularly magnified. Ever since the US entry into World War 2 our political, economic, military and cultural paths have been closely intertwined. This is best exemplified in the so-called 'special relationship' that exists between our two nations and was first heralded by Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1946. Hence, the key American policy events of the 20th century and beyond have had downstream effects on my own country that are still being felt today. To understand your destination, it is vital to comprehend where you're travelling from. In this regard I've long been a keen student of history, particularly themes relating to the Cold War, Western foreign policy and The War on Terror. In this fascinating and highly important thesis, legendary (and controversial to some) Hollywood film director Oliver Stone and historian Peter Kuznick deliver an impressive account of events from the late 1800s to the Obama years. I watched the excellent documentary series a couple of years ago and was very pleased with the delivery, presentation and impact. Moreover, I learned much about events that were unfamiliar to me, and some of these will be expanded upon below. Crucially, the series piqued my interest and inspired me to pursue further knowledge. In this respect, the book serves as a deserving and necessary companion. Untold History is thoroughly researched, as evidenced by the extensive list of reference material and in-text citations. The endorsements from Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, and Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower that leaked the Pentagon Papers, add gravitas and credence to this most substantial of undertakings. I must stress that it took me a long time to read and digest given the huge amount of content presented. Substantive focus is given to the events of World War 2, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam with lesser emphasis on the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Nevertheless, in my opinion the most impactful and tumultuous events occurred during the mid-20th century and the focus on these is justified. Although several occurrences are detailed that may not be strictly 'untold' per se, in that they are freely available facts that can be sought out, they are largely omitted from the discourse or are absent from the curriculum. For example, the nexus of the book could be said to be the development and subsequent dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Under scrutiny, it emerges that these acts were militarily unnecessary at best and at worst morally reprehensible war crimes. Japan had been firebombed relentlessly, and with the entry of the Soviet Union into the Pacific War surrender was inevitable. Rather, the bombs were dropped to send a message to the Soviets; a demonstration of overwhelming destructive power and a statement that America would take the lead in shaping the post-war world. Subsequently, the practice of nuclear brinkmanship would be used often to reinforce American policy objectives, and this would only compel other nations to develop their own nuclear arsenal to achieve parity. My own education, like that of so many Westerners, asserted that the nukes were necessary because the Japanese were fanatics and a land invasion would have cost a million Allied lives. Obviously, this was utter mythology. Other events that were genuinely astounding include the actions of Soviet Navy officer Vasili Arkhipov during the Cuban Missile Crisis. His courage and restraint in preventing a nuclear strike that would have led to global armageddon were unbeknownst to me. The actions of the United States in 'fighting Communism' throughout the world for much of the second half of the 20th century, using whatever means necessary, were also circumspect. Genocidal regimes and dictators were supported and protected, flagrantly contradicting the recalcitrant rhetoric we hear so often from neoconservatives and those that spout American exceptionalism. When viewed through my libertarian ideological prism, there is much to like about the narrative here but also in the underlying morality espoused by the authors. Time after time we see the effects of blowback, whereby the meddling in other countries, either overtly or covertly, results in problems further down the track. Think of the Iranian coup d'etat in 1953 brought about by MI5 and the CIA, the support of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the Arab Spring, ISIS and so forth. We currently live under a Pax Americana, the very world John F. Kennedy warned about in his American University Commencement Address, and if history tells us anything it's that all empires must eventually fall. The United States has and should possess a strong military to defend from aggressive foreign nations, but that's all. It has that power many times over, and instead merely instigates conflicts around the world, at the whim of politicians and their corporate paymasters. The cancer of crony capitalism must be expunged, but it's very difficult to see when this will occur, if at all. In recent months we've seen President Trump attempt to bring about more cordial relations with Russia, but with the passing of new sanctions these attempts appear to have been subverted. The anti-Russian sentiments espoused by so many in the mainstream media concerning Russian interference in the 2016 election seem highly ironic considering the role of the Central Intelligence Agency and others in fixing elections around the world for decades in the name of 'democracy'. There are countless instances of this in Untold History and I would strongly advise the reader to seek them out. It's a shame the book couldn't have been released just a few short years later, following the Edward Snowden revelations and the political climate following the election of Donald Trump. It would have been fascinating to see the same in-depth critical analysis applied in these contexts, especially relating to the widespread and flagrant disregard for the United States Constitution. A number of key 'nexus points' are alluded to that represent forks in the road - opportunities to change course and move along a different path. A path that isn't motivated by crony capitalism, imperialism and death. Among these squandered opportunities, several come to light as highly significant. The Allied co-operation during WW2 that soon turned to enmity with the Soviet Union, the death of Stalin, the warning of President Eisenhower about the military-industrial complex, the rise and abrupt end of John F. Kennedy, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and several more. Recently, we saw much promise with the campaign of Barack Obama but he failed to deliver on virtually all of his promises. In fact, he could be said to have gotten away with far more unconstitutional behaviour than his predecessor. If anything is clear from this book, it's that history has shown several of these key moments, and it is certain that there will be many more to come. In learning from history, we can inform ourselves and develop our criticality towards the present, and this book serves as a considerable aid in achieving that for Americans but also those in the Western sphere of influence.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bugzmanov

    This is a long and very depressing read. Not sure why some people find it fascinating. Long list of war crimes and human suffering. Apparently not many american presidents in 20th century can claim to be not responsible for that. The book is clearly biased and it's assumed that you know "told history of the united stated" where brave GI Joes save the world from bloody dictators and bring freedom to all countries across the globe. So don't expect to hear all the facts and all the truths from all t This is a long and very depressing read. Not sure why some people find it fascinating. Long list of war crimes and human suffering. Apparently not many american presidents in 20th century can claim to be not responsible for that. The book is clearly biased and it's assumed that you know "told history of the united stated" where brave GI Joes save the world from bloody dictators and bring freedom to all countries across the globe. So don't expect to hear all the facts and all the truths from all the sides. The books is huge but covers long period of time. Given the fact that events like WWII or Vietnam war require severals books to be covered objectively, I'm not sure why some reviewers are mad about short supply of different views. But sometimes the bias and shortage of evidence might leave you wondering "what was so great about JFK except inspiring speeches again? Why Regan was a disaster? Is it because he wasn't smart?" But again, it's assumed that a reader knows told history. Bias is bias, and war crimes are war crimes. And they are listed with depressing care and thoroughness. The major views on WWII and atomic bombs is pretty close to what I was taught in Russian school. Not sure if it's bad thing or good thing. I'm assuming it's a good sign (for instance, the fact that Molotov–Ribbentrop pact was signed by soviets because Brits were not willing to sign same pact between USSR France and GB is mentioned in the book)

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