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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

[haw-info] Letter to Historians Against the War

Dear Fellow Members and Supporters of Historians Against the War:
As you may have seen, filmmaker Oliver Stone and I have recently released our book The Untold History of the United States. It is a companion to our ten-part documentary film series that began airing on Showtime November 12. It is a hard-hitting, controversial history of the American empire and national security state—an in-depth look at American militarism in its various manifestations. The book begins with the late 19th century. The documentaries focus more on the period from World War II to the present.
Oliver and I are thrilled that Showtime has had the courage to air a program presenting the kind of history that rarely reaches a mainstream U.S. audience and that Simon & Schuster is promoting the book so aggressively. The book is selling in Walmart, Costco, and Sam's and will be on this coming week's New York Times bestseller list.
We have also been doing a media blitz in which we've had remarkable access to mainstream outlets as well as to shows like Democracy Now and Tavis Smiley that would be more expected. We have also done a series of public screenings, events, and panels. Fellow panelists have included Jon Wiener, Robert Scheer, Marilyn Young, Danny Walkowitz, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Jonathan Schell, Doug Brinkley, Jeff Madrick, Victor Navasky, Michael Hastings, Louis Lapham, and David Wollner.
I am writing because we need your help. So far the overwhelming majority of articles and reviews have been glowing. But we know that we are in for a battle. And it is getting nasty. The lines were drawn in articles by Ron Radosh and David Horowitz. Sean Wilentz, who deplores our criticism of Reagan and the Clintons, and who told Radosh that he agreed completely with his red-baiting attack on us in Bill Kristol's Weekly Standard, will be coming out with a review in the New York Review of Books.
We need as much support from historians as we can get in the form of letters, blogs, reviews, screenings, symposia, etc. I'm copying a personal note from Dan Ellsberg and some of the early blurbs and comments below followed by some of the media coverage, including my response to a hatchet job in the Daily Beast. I tried to attach the book jacket, Foreword, and part of the Introduction to our book so that you could see what we are arguing and why it is so disturbing to those who defend American exceptionalism, empire, and wars, but the posting got too long to send. If you contact me at pkuznick@aol.com, I will be happy to email them to you. Simon & Schuster has been good about sending review copies to potential reviewers, so let me know if you need one.
Peter Kuznick
American University
Note from Dan Ellsberg:
Peter, it's WONDERFUL, it's historic, it's as hopeful as anything I can think of, that this country and the world are getting to your YOUR voice and your take on our history on this scale. It really can and may make a difference in our national consciousness like nothing else that I can remember. Hell, when I had a national audience for what I had to say about Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, I didn't KNOW most of the stuff in this series and your book. I had to learn it later, on my own. (I wish I'd had this book before that, long before that--but then, I wouldn't have gone to Vietnam at all, so maybe it was for the best!)

NO ONE has had your current access to the media (thank you, Oliver! Who's saying very good things, too, including his emphasis on law), along with YOUR knowledge and eloquence to say what you're saying. It's not just the series, which starts tonight and presumably will have even more impact altogether: but it's your face-to-face interviews, saying things about American empire that very, very few of the public will have ever heard before. And about Obama, too, from people who voted from him not only in 2008 but of necessity in 2012 too (like Stone, and I presume you too, no?) This is the glasnost, at last, that I hoped for when I first heard about this project from you. You worked like hell, for years, and it could not have been more worthwhile! THANK YOU both, and congratulations!

Blurbs and comments:
"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 a time when decisions are being taken that will shape America's role in the global world of the twenty-first century. 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
"Howard [Zinn] would have loved this 'people's history' of the American Empire. It's compulsive reading: brilliant, a masterpiece!" --Daniel Ellsberg, author Secrets
"Kuznick and Stone's Untold History is the most important historical narrative of this century; a carefully researched and brilliantly rendered account of how we evolved from a 'City Upon the Hill' to the global superpower athwart the world." –Martin Sherwin, Pulitzer Prize winning co-author (with Kai Bird) American Prometheus
"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 Gardner, author The Road to Baghdad

"Oliver Stone owns the audacity franchise in America.  His sweeping Untold History of the United States  - coauthored by Peter Kuznick - is a brave revisionist study which shatters many foreign policy myths.  Following in the footsteps of William Appleman Williams, Walter LaFeber and Howard Zinn, the Stone - Kuznick team grapples with the unsavory legacy of American militarism.  The amount of research presented is impressive.  I found their heroic profile of the unsung Henry Wallace admirable.  Make room on your book shelf or Kindle for this compelling leftist primer". – Douglas Brinkley, author Dean Acheson
"Finally, a book with the guts to challenge the accepted narrative of recent American history. Read it and realize that in America, there is what actually happened, and a parallel universe of myth and conventional wisdom.  This is the 'Washington didn't really chop down the cherry tree' book for our last hundred years." -- Bill Maher
"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. It is a fair guess that everyone will find something in this book that they disagree with. But it is a certainty that 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 Drawing the Line
"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 Confronting the Bomb

"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 The Age of Greed
"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 Witness to an Extreme Century
"Agree or Disagree: 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 The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb
"The Untold History of America is 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 The Korean War
"phenomenally great book"—David Swanson, author War Is a Lie
Here are links to some of the reviews and interviews and our response to one critic:
'Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States': Facts through a new lens
By Ann Hornaday, November 11, 2012
"Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States" airs Monday at 8 p.m. on Showtime.
Oliver Stone's 'Untold History'
November 12, 2012
Oliver Stone's Untold, Unboring History of the United States
Oliver Stone's The Untold History of the US premieres tonight on Showtime

Seitz on Oliver Stone's The Untold History of the United States: Telling Tales Out of School
Oliver Stone: America is an "outlaw nation"
The cinematic renegade talks about Obama, FDR, his new Showtime series and the myth of American exceptionalism
By Andrew O'Hehir
Oliver Stone's Alternate States
By Jeffrey Madrick
Oliver Stone on War, George Bush, Ken Burns, and His New Show
By June Thomas Posted Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012
OP-ED: About the Untold History of the United States
Sunday, November 11, 2012
David Swanson
Daily Beast
Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick Defend Their Untold History
November 21, 2012
London Guardian TV interview
Tavis Smiley Show


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