"Don't Know Much About History" by Kenneth Davis is a book that makes you want to rethink your knowledge base. All the things you learned in high school are fodder for dispute after reading just the first few chapters.
The profound sayings reported of our founding fathers turn into something like the honest "Move your Arse:" George Washington's actual words when preparing to cross the Delaware. The romantic, but completely erroneous, tale of Pocahontas told in schools and repeated by Walt Disney makes you want to cringe with embarrassment that you actually allowed yourself to believe even one piece of the story.
This book is a very important start for anyone who wants a competent knowledge base about the history of America. It's written in an engaging voice with fun revelations throughout. I only wish it was available when I was in high school, then I wouldn't have to "unlearn" so many things.
Davis is not only a historian, he loves history. And he has an ability to transfer that love of history to his readers in a way that is easy to comprehend and fun to follow. A 9-year-old would enjoy reading (or listening) to this as much as a 90-year-old.
The book begins with facts about explorers to America and ends at the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy in New York: The attack on the Twin Towers. No answers are given for the attack (it had just occurred while Davis was finishing this edition), only a reflection of where it appears to fit in the history of this country.
A lot happened throughout those hundreds of years and all of it cannot be contained in a single book. But I highly recommend reading this if you want to get a gist of the world as it related to America throughout those years and to understand some of the major players on the world stage and what they were about.
This book is a very important addition to every American's library.