Arts & Entertainment

The Racism in Textbooks

New York Review of Books

Eric Foner
The Complicity of the Textbooks

In Teaching White Supremacy, Donald Yacovone traces how the writing of American history, from Reconstruction on, has falsified and illuminated our racial past.

Dan Chiasson
Rococo Risks

With Venice, her latest collection of poems, Ange Mlinko offers an account of motherhood at a crossroads, now that art and mortality share an empty nest.

Clair Wills
Family Lore

In her latest book, Marina Warner uses her skills as a mythographer to tell the story of her parents’ lives in postwar Cairo.

Michael D. Gordin
Our Toxic Nuclear Present

Blindness to the aftermath of nuclear detonations has consistently marginalized some of the most traumatized victims of the atomic age.

Toy Apple Beauty

a poem by
Geoffrey Nutter

First there is the outsider.
Then there is a second outsider—less
Outside than the first, but still.
Then there is the third outsider,
Who is now, actually, inside something…

Sarah Schulman
The Same Problem on Repeat

Monkeypox is now, with Covid-19 and HIV, one of the viruses at the center of American life. Yet even now that preventive treatments for all three exist, the US has failed to help people access them.

Jenny Uglow
Lear’s Lyrical Coasts

The seascapes that Edward Lear sketched on his travels around the Mediterranean are thresholds and boundaries that ask: To stay, or go?

Free from the Archives

Well into the twentieth century,” writes Eric Foner in our most recent issue, “most textbooks said little about slavery or portrayed it as a mild institution that helped lift ‘savage’ Blacks into the realm of civilization.” Foner’s focus is on textbooks’ historical commitment to white supremacy, but they have proved to be enduring subjects of criticism from many corners. In 2012 Gail Collins detailed how a small group of Texas conservatives are able to direct the content of textbooks nationwide, while in 1979 C. Vann Woodward argued that history books are usually just “history as public opinion.” And in the Review’s June 11, 1998, issue, the historian Alexander Stille offered a synthesis of sorts, explaining how political fights and compromises resulted in “distracting, boring, and trivial” educational material.

Alexander Stille
The Betrayal of History

“More disturbing than the new politically correct orthodoxy is the astonishing decline in the literary quality of textbooks: their skimpy, superficial treatment of events, the increasing proliferation of pictures and graphics, and the use of oversimple language.”



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