Okay, guys, I need help. No, not that kind of help. Well, not more than usual.

In this case I need help with research, because I need to do this project(s) and I NEED to write fiction, so I can bring in money too, so I can’t just stop the fiction and do this. But THIS must be done.

Having the best read, most knowledgeable readers in the world, I know you guys will come through.

This morning between sleep and wakening, I thought ‘d like some age appropriate books for the adopted grandchildren (from 14 to 4 though you could stretch it of from 16 to 2. I’m a promiscuous adopter.) Specifically, I wanted age appropriate books on America, to pass on my love of the country.

I’m sure there are some. I’m also sure they’re rare, and I’d have to read every one of them for the “hidden poison pill.”

For instance, do you know I’ve never read the story of George Washington and the cherry tree, though I’ve read at least a dozen “debunkings?”

And one of the best documentaries on the American revolution strongly indicates the only reason that Washington threw in with the cause of liberty is that he was vain ad jealous?

Having read my kids’ history books, they were much much worse. Every flaw of our heroes pointed out, every misstep of our leaders highlighted, every traitor cast in a beneficial/sympathetic light. As for the biographies and fiction they are forced to read those are mostly of foreign leaders, often communists.

The big surprise to be fair is not that some of our children are marching in the streets screaming “Death to America.” The shock is that not ALL of them are. And that not all of them are willing dupes for foreign powers.

It is in fact like the religious education in our fully converged churches. I think my kids were almost done with it, when I realized my kids knew nothing of their supposed religion, but had been subjected to an unending stream of veggie tails and reading of The Giving Tree, and more objectionably lunacy some of which was unexceptionable but not particularly religious and certainly not our faith, and some of which was outright communism. You do that, and the kids will likely come out primed to fall for any well-sounding New-Agey philosophy and embrace it, buckle and tongue.

In the same way, you raise the kids on an endless stream of debunking, and why our country isn’t as good as they might think it is, and they grow up to embrace half baked Marxist nonsense hammer and sickle. Particularly since no one is allowed to say anything bad about any other country or way of life, because in the half-formed teacher’s mind that’s “racist.” (Because nationalities and religions are now races, doncha know?

Three generations of this, and the real wonder is that any kid will still love America.

So it occurred to me we need a series of books, starting with something picture-heavy, on our heroes and our history. (Yes, sure, throw the Cherry Tree in. Myth? And? Who is it who taught us about fake but accurate? Also we tell the little ones about the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus not to “fool” them, but because the myths have an underlying truth. They grow out of them fast enough. And we can always put a note that this can’t be proven, but this story was told by our ancestors.)

Start with tales of the founding fathers and people alive at the founding, told simply, and much like the story of the cherry tree. A little book, drawing heavy (and if you’re reading this, yes, you, you know I’m going to ask you to illustrate it.)

Move on to something suitable for young teens. Stories from valley forge. Ben and Debra Franklin’s meet cute. Etc.

Then something for the older, more thoughtful readers (probably a bit of this from the federalist papers and some bios.)

I’m not proposing to write these, except for perhaps redacting “stories told” for the very young readers because if we find enough they’ll be in archaic language, and littles are sensitive to that.

But surely this material existed and was read to/given to kids at one point!

So, what I’m going to ask my readers is to find me the books, and point me at the relevant parts.

Suggest things to include, or redact for the very little, the young teens, the older teens. Aiming for about 120 pages (not thousand words) for the first, going all the way to maybe 120k words for the oldest readers.

I’ll probably also need redacting of anything I redact for young readers, because I suck at writing for kids. I was never really a young reader and I’m not sure my kids were. We jumped solidly to what is now called “middle grade.”

There might need to be a youngest reader or some of the stories might need to be made into comic books (And I have a few friends to annoy for the drawing.)

HOWEVER I have a very strong feeling it’s time and we need to do this. We’ve thought for too long we could hand the kids to a poisonous school system and they’d come out somehow Americans.

I’m not sure why we thought that, in retrospect. And obviously it was a stupid idea.

So let’s do this. Now.

463 thoughts on “Bleg

    1. That was my first thought, the “Rush Revere” books. They would be appropriate for roughly 2-8, give or take a year or two.

            1. Some of Manley Wade Wellman’s Silver John stories would fit, but the most complete collection, “John the Balladeer”, is a three digit collectible when you can find it at all. Several of his books and story collections are on Kindle but that one never made it.

              1. There was a collection of the Silver John stories on the Baen CDs (provided by David Drake). It was titled “John The Balladeer”.

                If you can find the Baen CDs on Joe Buckley’s site, it should be there.

                1. On the McGuffey’s Readers, I just paged through 1-6 and found a few things. Most of the readings are didactic fiction teaching morals. A smattering of animal or plant facts and poetry make up the rest. The history or historical stuff looks like more appropriate for older children. The older children also get selections from popular American and English novels from the previous 100 years. I just bookmarked the things that fell into the American history category, or America is beautiful and worth fighting for. Should I email them to you?

                2. There’s The Junior Classic 1957 ed. You’d want Hero Tales & Tales from History.

                  Castalia House is doing a version with any nascent poison pills removed and replacing with stories from the 19(14?) ed. I think you can buy the books separately as they come out. Right now it is just the first 3 (4?) that are out.

            1. Have you considered the McGuffey Readers, the complete set would cover all ages. Also as a person who started to school in 1941 we had some sweet books if I remember correctly. They weren’t all See spot run. 2nd and 3rd grades had some interesting stories.

  1. And I have two books of YA adventure aimed at teen and tween boys (and eventually to do a couple of more when time and inspiration allow) which are a kind of re-telling of the Lone Ranger, only historically accurate and set in the time of the Republic of Texas. James Reade and his Delaware Indian blood brother, Toby Shaw are set on all kinds of missions by their commander, Jack Hays – to solve mysteries, find missing people and missing treasure, and generally bring justice to the wild Texas frontier.
    Lone Star Sons –
    And Lone Star Glory –

      1. I DO intend to write a few books relating to American values, one of them a supernatural cozy (the ghost died fighting for the revolution) BUT that’s a different project.

  2. Something like this really needs to include a simple explanation of what myths are, and why they are valuable even if they aren’t always literally true. If someone doesn’t understand that they will carry around a shake-the-foundations-of-their-beliefs button waiting for someone to push it. See; endless debunkings of the cherry tree incident.

    Of course the short answer is “throw Jordan Peterson books at them”, but that is a little much for children to handle or understand.

    1. I’ve been carrying the “cherry tree is false” belief for so long, though, I was surprised to encounter an anecdote of information from Washington’s relatives that indicated it might just be true after all!

      But I would agree that the footnotes either need “modern scholars think this didn’t really happen” or the actual evidence that “yes, maybe it did happen, after all.”

      1. Information on specific myths is useful, but I’m talking about the “philosophy of myth”.

        Because anyone not living under a rock will come upon myths that are useful but not true. And any half-bright kid is going to wonder why they shouldn’t just throw it in either the Lies, or the Fiction bin. Probably Lies, because it was presented as something that happened.

        All Progressive attacks are based on a seed of truth. And “this story never happened” or “this hero was actually a despicable person most of the time” are avocado sized pits that must be dealt with.

        1. I wish I remembered…. Oh, yes, D. Sebastian, the lost Portuguese king, who might ahve been a despicable little sh*t or not, because the left hates him, for dying trying to conquer the moors in the North of Africa.
          Anyway, he’s the one “who will return” in Portuguese myth.
          So, Fernando Pessoa wrote these lines about him:
          It is whom I’m dreamed that’s real
          It is him that shall return.

          Which I think is the power of myth.

      2. The Scarlet Pimpernal was definitely unreal but his stories apparently inspired some rescuers during the Holocaust.

        C.S. Lewis has some interesting discussion on this in The Four Loves, and also in An Experiment in Criticism.

        1. First sdventure protagonist with a Secret Alter Ego – foundation of all subsequent super hero characters. Three guesses while v this female authorial pioneer has been erased from history.

          1. Actually, leaving aside that he didn’t have a real secret identity — no one actually met the Scarlet Pimpernel in character — the prince in “Iron Hans” had a secret identity (and in that one people had met both identities), and I have heard second hand that this goes back to the chivalric romance.

    2. Explaining in the context of “parables” might help– these are teaching stories, that explain things.

      Like how “If you have six apples, and I take three, how many do you have?” is not answered with “six apples and a few of your fingers” nor “none, because I give you the other three, I don’t like apples.”

      1. I was the kid who absolutely *&#^)%(@%&)(#@%^@()%#^@%)(#ing HATED word math problems.

        Because it isn’t enough to extract the meaning and solve the problem. You then have to re-dress the answer up in a bunch of extraneous words.

        1. Your teachers made you write out a story-answer?

          That’s … that’s both stupid, and obnoxious.

          The entire POINT of story problems is that you translate the information (have six, minus three, yield ?) into math (6-3=?) and solve that. THERE IS NO REASON TO TRANSLATE IT BACK.

          1. No not entire stories.

            Just that “five” isn’t sufficient; it must be “five apples”. Because we don’t know about human language’s ability to have context.

            1. Erk. I mean, I’m a late-but-strident comer to the idea that units are super-important-always (physics did it–when I don’t know quite what to do, running the problem units-only with various formulas until some came back with a sensible unit usually worked), but if the question asks how many apples the unit is pre-supposed.

              (Probably flogging handwriting instead of units, at a guess. But I can’t see that improving your mood.)

              1. mmhmm

                I know units are Important(tm), but this was really base level arithmetic, where even if that were the attempted lesson it wouldn’t have stuck. See “worst things you can teach”. Once you have gotten the student to despise the lesson it doesn’t matter how valuable it is…. they will actively resist learning on principle.

              2. Derp, forgot this part:

                (Probably flogging handwriting instead of units, at a guess. But I can’t see that improving your mood.)

                Nope; all verbal.

              3. I don’t remember who said it, I think it was one of the homeschool luminaries. The quote is something like; “We will be the worst generation of homeschoolers”. Because the first generation were those who knew nothing of what worked and what didn’t, and what little they knew was the poison of the schools.

                The quote is true. Both in its hopeful and tragic sides.

                (though it is also helpful as a perspective check)

            2. Actually the correct answer to “How many apples do you have?” is 3. The correct answer to “if I have six apples and you take three, what am I left with?” is “3 apples”. Run into this in engineering math all the time. If the problem states the solution units, you don’t have to; otherwise you do.

          2. Now that I think about it there is an element of refusal to understand “ok, he gets this, can move on to the next thing”.

            Second worst thing you can teach a child is that a large fraction of the study is pointless drivel. Worst thing is to mix that with subjects that require a certain amount of artificial drill to embed a thought process.

            1. We had this discussion with Daughter #2 this morning; explained that there is make-work, and there is strengthening her brain muscles, and we are not going to give her #1. There will be a reason for her benefit that we are giving her practice, even if she doesn’t see it at the time. Sometimes it’s something hwere we can’t explain it, because that would ruin the entire setup.

              1. That is something that always pissed me off, that any time I gave a practice worksheet some a$$clown (the principal at my first high school) would say “drill and kill huh?”. Meanwhile the kids who didn’t do the worksheet couldn’t do the problem the next time it came up because they hadn’t actually internalized the process, having done it exactly once before.

                (PS I’m a HS math teacher, in case you were wondering about the context of me giving people worksheets)

                1. I did the same with teaching languages. “Make them do it over and over past the boredom, till it’s automatic.”
                  This is how I got #1 son to the 3year level he should be in French (not the 3 days which is where his teacher’s “learning is fun” method had kept him) in a summer.

                  1. Memory is the basis of all learning. It is the bottom of the frikken learning pyramid.

                    Or, as I heard it the oncet, “you use what you have, when it comes right down to it. If’n you don’t remember it, you don’t have it.

                    What stinks is having to memorize a second time. I used to remember things, I swear.

                    1. I’ve reached that point where I forgot a lot of things.

                      It doesn’t help that I had to take some antidepressants. I … in retrospect, I didn’t need to. The things didn’t make me not depressed, they made me not FEEL. Which made me want to feel pain – which I couldn’t, and the only pain I COULD feel was the FAR DEEP END of pain – emotional pain. So the freaking things made me want to feel pain so bad I wanted to die half the time while I was on the things. And afterward, when I cold-turkeyed out of them so I didn’t numbly off myself because my brain kept saying “No, you should be FEELING SOMETHING, this is WRONG”… I had issues remembering things. Very badly. And it’s stuff I know I knew. I hate it.

                      I hate what those ‘mild antidepressants’ did to me. For years they took my writing and my ability to feel joy, or interest in much of anything.

                      The pain of grief that was the reason why I took the things is preferable.

                    2. Sigh. I used to have a great watchamacallit – it was like a steel trap. I knew every book I owned, I never had to write down a class schedule nor make note of appointments. I could even remember the rules for dressing myself in complementing non-clashing colours and patterns.

                2. My kids (homeschooler, much younger than yours) pouted and howled a bit about the laminated times tables I made for them, based in part on a suggestion here.

                  Then they started actually doing them before doing their math paper-lesson.

                  Suddenly, it was great. They didn’t have to waste a bunch of paper doing the math (4+4+4+4+4…) out long hand for every single one, and the repetition of doing it EVERY DAY meant that they actually are remembering it.
                  Which means that, again jus today, our eldest son “skip counted” by fours without hesitation for a division problem. He’s seven! ❤

                3. The weakness of the ‘each child should work at his or her own pace’ idea is that it reaches a bright child that the reward for good work is more work. There really needs to be a stated point at which the child has done enough, and gets to do something he or she chooses to do, even if it’s staring out the window.

                  1. Three methods; they get recess after doing two units of work; they get recess for X minutes after each unit of work; they can challenge the course and get time off (where they can do half lessons, and bank up against when stuff is due).

                    We use variations on all three, via my having a “so many pages a day” standard that they can bank against. If they get all the way done with the book, it becomes a single page of basic practice for that subject.

              2. You have to memorize addition, subtraction, and multiplication up to at least 10 x 10 before you can make any progress in math. It’s boring. It’s tedious. It’s a pain in your little 6-year-old ass. And there’s no way around it if you’re ever going to get beyond counting on your fingers. Unfortunately, you won’t understand until AFTER you’ve gone through it.

                  1. I kind of preferred the method advocated by Fred Pohl in his essay, “Counting on your fingers.”

                    The right pinky is 2 to the zero power, the right ring finger is 2 to the first power, middle finger is 2 to the second, index finger 2 to the third, and the thumb is 2 to the fourth power, or sixteen.

                    Follow the same process on your left hand with the pinky representing 2 to the fifth on up to the thumb representing two to the ninth power. This allows you to count up to 1023 before running out of fingers — and provides a basic grounding in binary numbers.

                    At least, until arthritis begins to afflict your hands.

                1. 10 x 10? Don’t handicap the kid: make them memorize multiplication table that goes up to 12. You’ll encounter dozens so often in life that it’s worth memorizing a 12 x 12 table, and it’s not that much extra work.

                  My father went to school in Great Britain for a few years, at a time when people’s weight was still commonly measured in stones (14 pounds). So someone who was 150 pounds would say they weight “ten stone and ten pounds”. So the multiplication table he had to memorize went all the way to 14, because multiplying and dividing by 14 was a skill the kids would need a lot. In America, 14 isn’t a useful number, but 12 certainly is. Make them learn the multiplication table all the way to 12 and they’ll derive* huge benefits from it later.

                  * No pun intended, that’s just the word my brain came up with for that sentence and I only realized the potential pun later.

                  1. I can’t say I’ve ever had a lot of use for the times tables in dozens, or eleven either. Having a quick reaction to how many quarters or nickels are in a stated amount of money, now…6 quarters? 1.50 and so on. very handy indeed.
                    best to all

                    1. Why the times table in dozens?

                      Construction, mostly.

                      Imperial measurements, 12 inches to a foot. What’s 3 inches short of 9 feet?

                  2. As I said, AT LEAST 10 x 10. 12 x 12 is better, but you quickly reach the point of diminishing returns. Memorizing 78 products* is a chore, but not an insurmountable one. Memorizing the 210 products up to 20 x 20 is impractical — it’s much easier to work them out from smaller factors. Quick, what is 14 * 17?

                    * Remember, you only have to memorize half the table, plus the other half of the center diagonal.

                  3. Going up to 12 also helps cement the way that the numbers pile up on each other– 10×10=100 is a different (and false) pattern from 12*12=144.

                    I don’t know how to describe it, I can just “see” the numbers slotting in differently.

          3. Jesus, this “word math” tomfoolery is jitterbugging my poor little brain cells. I’ma gonna shake it all up just to be ornery! :/

            Obnoxious teacher: “If you’re holding six apples and I grab three of them from you when your attention is distracted by the kitty, how many apples do you have left?”
            Smartass kid: “Four.”
            Obnoxious teacher: “No, dear. Please try again, and explain your reasoning in words.”
            Smartass kid: “Four! When you stole my apples, I clonked you on the head with an apple and made you drop the ones you took. I took them back, but two are all mushy from falling on the floor and hitting your head. You can have them. So I have four. Can I go now?”
            Obnoxious teacher: “….”

        2. Note:
          Most word problems are very poorly written; they would be improved by crowd-sourcing “when did you last use math in real life?” and double-checking those.

          Fox is trying to save money. She needs at least 25 pounds of medium grain rice, and doesn’t care if it is enriched or not; if she orders on line, she will pay $4.99 shipping, and if she goes to the store she will use $3.25 worth of gas. She does not have room for more than 30 pounds of rice. Here are four charts of prices; which will get her the twenty five pounds of rice for the best total price?

          Elf is bracing a cracked deck. He has a 3ft piece of 2×4 that is squared at the ends, and wants to make two evenly sized braces. What is the longest brace he can make? You do not have to account for length lost by cutting.
          (The trick to that one is that you can flip the board and use the middle cut to mirror the other side– so that the “ends” of the board are next to each other, and the “middle” is next to each other; it’s a matter of remembering that rule about right triangles having the same total number of degrees when you add them up.)

          1. Walmart offers a protein bar of which I am fond in two packages: box of five, box of ten.

            The box of five costs $4.69
            The box of ten costs $9.58

            Which should I buy?

            Give me two methods of solving this.

              1. The other method comes in handy when they come in boxes of five and twelve – the latter costing $11.00. You don’t need to know it for the example given but you still need to know it.

              2. Give me two methods of solving this.

                Two boxes of 5 = $9.38 which is less than $9.58. Who needs another method?

                Won’t disagree with the answer. What I disagree with is the actual question. The actual question s/b “Give me ONE of the methods of solving this.” or “Give me any two methods of solving this.”

                I also understand why the question asks for more than one method. It is an insight on how the student looks at answering the question. Are they flexible enough to see more than one method?

                Hindsight is 20/20. I may have driven my teachers crazy …

            1. *laughs*

              Now I’m wondering if the teacher would accept 2A=B and B/2=A, or if they’d say it’s the same method. (Depending on the technique being taught, they’re part of the same “fact triangle” or “fact family”– which makes me wonder if there are more complicated ones out there than the basic “If C+B=A, then A-B=C and A-C=B and B+C=A” format I’ve seen.)

              I suppose the basic A/5=X vs B/10=Y would be a second method….

              You know the smart-As would say something like “the small box, fatzo” or “neither, too much protein is bad” or something similar.


              Bonus question! What is the extra unknown cost, after adjusting for the larger container size, that must be overcome to explain the pricing difference here?”

      2. Actually, in the new, reimagined Amerika, the answer is what the State tells you it. It is important that the child understand that if the State says 6 minus 3 is 5, then that is the proper answer. It is the same reasoning as the old joke that ration decreases are actually increases. In a series such as contemplated by SH, it will be important that parents and students understand factual answers and State approved answers to avoid being sent to reeducation.

      1. Besides Ben and Me, Robert Lawson also wrote Mr Revere and I, told by his horse. I know he had one on Captian Kidd’s cat too, don’t know if there were any others. I loved those as a kid.

    1. Me also, on Johnny Tremain.

      I’m going to have to go dig through, because we have a lot of old books.

      Also, for teens, off the top of my head, give them Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography.

      1. Ingri D’Aulaire biographies. The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Longfellow. (I still have most of it memorized, but it happens on the eve of my birthday and on my birthday, so it’s kind of personally special.)

        1. The D’Aulaire mythologies are also very good for providing a firm foundation in the myths that are assumed-known by the Founders.

          Well, the non-Christian ones; I still haven’t gotten a basic primer on Charlemagne.

          1. What about Bullfinch’s Mythology? That had a section of stories around Charlemagne and his knights.

            1. It might be the (condensed college edition) copy we had in high school, but I was really not impressed with Bullfinch’s. I should keep an eye out and look again.

              1. Bullfinch’s is best to show an overview, but as an overview of the myths, it’s very complete. It’s not beautiful prose, or highly engaging narrative, it’s true. I don’t quite recall whether my edition is condensed or not,and alas, it’s buried in a box.

                1. Bullfinch’s was rather dry, but I read it over and over again as a child. And the fairy tale books. Seems odd now… I guess young people are so flooded with story now that they have no need to trudge through Bullfinch.

                  1. *laughs* Among this group, you’ll find more who don’t want to trudge through it because they’ve already been exposed to better stuff!

                    My thumbnail memory of (our school’s edition of; I’ve got a suspicion it was curated with an eye to the audience) Bullfinch’s is that I got the impression they were rather obsessed with anything sex related, to the point of cutting out important things.

                    This is like 30 years ago, so the exact example may not be correct, but summarizing Odysseus with at least two or three paragraphs for every romantic conquest, but completely skipping the whole “tried to avoid going to war by pretending to be insane, got out-tricked because he wouldn’t cut his infant son in half with the plow” that was such a solid counterpoint to poor Iphigenia. Nothing about his non-Trojan-horse tricks during the Trojan war, either.

                    Between D’Aulaire’s and “it’s mythology, that’s educational, right?” type videos, I had to block out stuff I already knew to do that section of the class. The question “What is Odysseus famous for?” would only be “correct” if I said Trojan Horse, rather than being a clever trickster who would rather outsmart you than fight.

              1. A possible ploy is to take the forms of old stories (hey! Folksingers do it all the time) and rework tham to fit contemporary circumstances.

                For example, the Emperor’s New Healthcare. Or perhaps take the form of some of the Jack stories to illustrate ways of outwitting giant authority.

                Consider building an Aesop-type fable around Franklin’s quip about “calling an ox a bull. He’s thankful for the honor, but he’d much rather have restored what’s rightfully his.”

                1. Although I recommend using steer instead of ox, both out of deference to the presumably unaltered Orvan and because steer is more likely to be recognized by a modern audience as a castrated bull.

          2. I second the D’Aulaire mythology books (Norse and Greek). Very suitable for 1-4th grade (depending on reading level). I used to drive the librarians at my grammar school nuts because I was ALWAYS borrowing those. Also illustrations are really excellent in a kind of early to mid 20th century fashion.

    2. There’s another one I’d consider “Johnny Tremain for the South” — “Give Me Liberty”, although I can’t remember who wrote it. It even touches on the slavery issue as a contradiction, but doesn’t try to “resolve” it, or even condemn the Revolution for having that contradiction.

      This is something I consider important, too — it shows that slavery may be a black mark on American history, but that the overall necessity of fighting for freedom was nonetheless important to do!

  3. For instance, do you know I’ve never read the story of George Washington and the cherry tree, though I’ve read at least a dozen “debunkings?”

    I have, only because my grandmother didn’t throw away books so she had her they-were-hand-me-downs-during-WWII kid’s books, one of which had an obvious to little kid me look-how-honest-he-is story about George Washington having chopped down a cherry tree because he was so very pleased with a new ax, and when he could’ve lied to avoid trouble he didn’t.

    That pattern comes out a lot— they’re fighting against a misunderstanding of something that hasn’t been A Thing since the second world war!

      1. I encountered some advice from Ray Bradbury; one bit was to read an essay, read some poetry, and do one other thing (possibly read a short story) every day.

        He explicitly forbade reading modern poetry, and reading modern short stories. He didn’t consider either to be real.

        I currently have a book called “College Mathematics”, and I’m astounded that it’s basically a calculus book from the 1940s. It gives me the impression that students were expected to be ready for calculus by the time they got into college. (I think it’s a fine high school subject, too, but I don’t have a high opinion of the “path” that’s supposed to lead to it, especially after Common Core.)

        I cannot help but be at least a little angry at what Progressives have done to our education system!

        1. Please note that going to college at all was impressive in the 1940s. A WWII era story had a woman utterly quell her niece and nephew’s objection to their mother’s getting a war job by pointing out that she had attended college for a year.

  4. For the young teens
    Drovers East by Pitt L Fitzgerald. About the cattle drives from the Ohio valley to Virginia. Good descriptions of life in the early 1800s. Has the protagonists visit Washington DC and explains about malaria, yellow fever and other reasons you tried to stay away in the summer. Not heroic per se, but a good personal level look at the USA in the very early years of the expanding country.

    1. Now that you mention it, the “Little House on the Prairie” by Laura Ingles Wilder should be included for young adults.

      I also enjoyed “The Discovery of Freedom” by her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. She didn’t like it — she dashed it out after a couple of days — but it has nonetheless helped me appreciate our freedom, and how rare it is!

      1. Little House in the Big Wood especially. Later stuff is harder to read as i don’t think the stories flow as well and are kind of depressing. Reading level probably 3-6th grade.

  5. I was reading books like this in the 70’s, around the BiCentenial – when it was kosher to be patriotic. I remember the stories of Washington, Johnny Appleseed, Abe Lincoln. But right now I can only recall one book I had in my youth by title, Betsy Ross and the Flag.

    Quick look in Amazon says it is part of the Landmark series, put out in the 1950’s. Back when we were still proud to be American.

        1. It makes me sad to think that I lived through America’s best years.

          I’d argue that when we turn this around the country will be in far better shape than the era you are talking about. For two reasons:

          1. A far better appreciation of the fact that is not to be trusted, period. Something that can’t be said for most of last century.

          2. Things will be heading upwards, instead of already compromised but things haven’t worked their way through the entire system yet.

          (and yes I realize that I am doing a debunk-the-cherry-tree)

        2. Well, if I’d bought the last ticket for the Titanic — as a friend described (accurately) how I felt after the elections in 08 — I’d have figured out a way to turn it around, or go down trying.
          So, shoulder to the wheel.
          I’m not dead, so we must be working on winning.

          1. Well, freedom ain’t passed through our jeans (or so I thought I heard it when I was eight. Folks didn’t find out why I loved denim so much for *weeks*). Gotta keep on keepin’ on. Around, over, under, or through.

  6. As I recall, “Johnny Tremaine” was quite good for 10+ kids. It doesn’t shy away from the real costs of the Revolution, but neither does it treat Revolutionaries as demons or the British as unqualified angels.

    “Carry On, Mr. Bowditch,” while set in roughly the same time period, has less focus on the Revolution per se, but really pushes the American values of hard work, determination, and making the best of bad situations.

    The Little House books are quite good. One of the last books has a good lesson on tragedy of the commons, where Laura and Manny mortgage themselves so deeply that the only way they could survive is if they got to harvest the common field — but of course, other people have the same idea.

    For younger readers, it’s hard to go wrong with Aesop’s Fables. In addition to being touchstones of our culture, they’ve lasted so long because the lessons they impart are timeless. Perhaps the best from a liberty-loving perspective is the story of the horse and the stag. (One that doesn’t seem to get much airtime in unabridged versions). The horse and the stag were angry with each other. The man told the horse that he would kill the stag if the horse would agree to wear a saddle and bridle. The horse agreed, and the two went off into the forest. The man killed the stag, and the horse asked the man to now removed the saddle and bridle. The man refused: “Now that I have you, I will not let you go.”

    1. I have a lovely copy of the book Aesop in California. The only difference from the original tales is the exact species of the animals in question, all of which have been changed to California native species, and the illustrations are all set in specific locales. And of course it only has 12-15 of the tales, because it would be labor-prohibitive to have done them all.

      1. William Bennett’s Book of Virtues and the Moral Compass. Stories, poems, bits of history. About 80% American but does include William Tell etc., We used them with our kids. Lots to recite.

    2. “It doesn’t shy away from the real costs of the Revolution, but neither does it treat Revolutionaries as demons or the British as unqualified angels.”

      One of the myths that was put forth by Howard Zinn was the notion that Americans weren’t aware of the warts of the creation and expansion of America. We always knew that we were an ideal, and that our physical incarnation of that ideal had massive contradictions. We didn’t need a history that blatantly ignored the good of the ideal, and only focused on the bad.

      But that’s Communists for you.

      1. True. More of what I wanted to get across was that it isn’t what David Weber calls “military pornography” where none of the good guys ever die. People die in wars and in the leadup to wars; bad things happen both from chance and malice. The heroes of the Revolution aren’t superhuman demi-gods; they’re just men with businesses to run while they experience hardships and prepare for revolution. To me, that makes them *more* impressive, not less.

        1. But it also means that it has never been outside OUR capability to do what they did, if forced to it. And pretending that it was is one reason it’s been left almost too late.

          1. Agreed. That’s the one real downside of making these men larger-than-life ubermensch. Yes, we need heroes; no argument there. But we need heroes that we can aspire to be, not just admire.

            There’s a YouTuber called “It’s Just Some Random Guy” who does interesting Marvel/DC crossover stories with his massive collection of action figures. His first multipart story was about Lex Luthor kidnapping Stan Lee and the other Marvel writers and bringing them into the DC comic universe so they’d never grow up to create Marvel, ensuring that Superman and Lex would be relevant in the present day. It ends with the rescued Stan Lee (yes, he has his own action figure) explaining that Marvel’s characters are more relatable to the public because the characters want to be as good and noble as Superman — just like the public at large.

      2. We always knew that we were an ideal, and that our physical incarnation of that ideal had massive contradictions.

        Um… ok I’m not sure which direction what I remember implies. Because what little I know of American history involves one disastrous utopian project after another*. In fact we are coming up on the celebration of one of those failures. That could be either thinking heaven was about to come to earth (we are already near perfect!), or thinking that things were far enough from ideal that they needed to change.

        That is important because:

        One of the myths that was put forth by Howard Zinn was the notion that Americans weren’t aware of the warts of the creation and expansion of America.

        I don’t remember anyone ever showing knowledge of this understanding. When the only ones willing to critique anything are the scum you have a problem. Not least because attempted critique of some facet means you are the enemy, no matter how honest the attempt.

        The simplest answer might be that the communists created this situation by infiltrating the honest critiques…

        * excluding for a moment the people just going about their lives, who don’t really matter on the ideological plane.

  7. Also, I’m reading a history of the US by Thomas Kidd, quite good, and found on our shelves The Glorious Cause by Middlekauff. I don’t have much in the way of recs for kids…sorry! And, yes to the Federalist Papers. The two classics there are #10 and #51. Also, De Toqueville’s Democracy in America.

  8. For the religious side, I’ve long been a fan of Kenneth Taylor’s Bible Storybook. The original is better and less Protestant. He just tells the story. I was hearing it at 2-3 and learned everything Sunday school was supposed to teach my until maybe highschool? It’s hard to tell because highschool and middle school had a bunch of kids who had never been in church so the instruction was at their level. And when a detail comes up that is odd, it’s in the Bible, not added by Taylor.
    I haven’t looked into McGuffey readers, but I do have one of the reprinted copies. I shall do so, because I think that might be a repository of what you are looking for. Weren’t they used by everyone until Dewey and progressives came along?

    1. My mother read the blue MacArther Bible story books to us; when I picked up a used set for my own children she did say that they were written with a certain slant, but I can’t remember which small-ish denomination she said. She did a better job of reading to my sibling and me that I did to mine, but they made up for it some by reading to their kittens! The books cover the basics and some more besides in very readable and understandable text with beautiful and evocative illustrations.

  9. MR. REVERE AND I by Robert Lawson (Paul Revere as told by his horse). The companion book BEN AND ME is just a wee bit too cutesy, and does not do Franklin any justice. Not exactly American (though there are a couple to chapters that touch us) but a good anti-PC pair of books of history tales is PUCK OF POOK’S HILL and REWARDS ABD FARIES (Kipling, as if you didn’t know).

    As a child, I LOATHED the ‘Little House’ books. Something awful was always happening to someone I was supposed to like.

    Phil Stong wrote a numbers of books about the frontier, from IVANHOE KEELER and BUCKSKIN BRITCHES (at the adult end) to FORTY POUNDS OF GOLD and THE ADVENTURES OF ‘HORSE’ BARNSBY for young adults (my folks read my ‘Horse’ well before I was in high school).

    1. Yeah, the Little House books could be kind of depressing. But life on the frontier (for some value of frontier) was *hard*. And looked at objectively and not through the eyes of a tween child, ‘Pa’ Ingalls was kind of a loser. Granted, some of it wasn’t his fault; when a swarm of grasshoppers comes and devours your crop, you don’t have much control of the situation.

    2. Sarah;

      Just watched a Forgotten Weapons YouTube about a rifle presented by Congress to one of the boys who made up Aikin’s Volunteers at the siege of Plattsburgh in the War of 1812. Got curious and googled the unit, and one of the results was a book on Amazon titled NINE DAYS A SOLDIER, a novel about the unit that is aimed at kids.

      Thought that would fit your criteria nicely.

  10. The Winged Watchman is a favorite of mine. It’s one of those books you read as a child that stays with you. Story of a loving family that deals with adversity in Nazi occupied Holland in WW2. Good inspirational story with very likable characters. 10 yrs + rated I think.
    Narnian Chronicles are also favorites. Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the the one I like best.

      1. exceptionalism

        Possibly silly question: How does one do Exceptionalism without falling headlong into self-aggrandizement? (also applies to Human Wave)

        I know one way of doing it, but that defeats the entire point of the exercise.

        1. Self aggrandizement is OKAY. All other nations do it. If we’re all modest, we leave ourselves open to what we have.
          Consider the Humans FY threads on reddit. People want to be told they’re part of something great. And a bit of buffing the credentials is OKAY.

          1. Self aggrandizement is OKAY.

            [citation needed]

            The problem is always that if you aren’t promoting the group you are a part of or have a stake it, then wtf are you doing? (the “one way I know of doing it”)

            But if you are part of that group then either it is something you took part in (then why talk about the group except for humility or faux-humility), or something that has no reflection on you, only increased debt.

            Consider the Humans FY threads on reddit.

            I have. They are entertaining, and also refreshing in a “hey there is light in the universe!” kind of way.

            Also disturbing. Because “I’m the greatest!” never goes well.

            People want to be told they’re part of something great.

            mmhmm, one only need look at what happens when people are told the opposite.

            But the existence of a need does not justify every possible way of satisfying that need.

            And a bit of buffing the credentials is OKAY.


            If it is an ideal, and clearly understood as such, that works. But fudging the reality is just setting oneself up to be vulnerable to progressive attack.

            1. No. Look, it’s a way of looking, okay. At six kids don’t need to be hit with “Ben Franklin’s marriage was a little odd, and his son was illegitimate.” WHAT is the point of that?

                1. The fundamental question is, “What’s important about this person?” Is it Franklin’s dysfunctional family or his overcoming his impoverished upbringing to become o of the West’s most renowned celebrities? Is it his marital arrangements (which, in the instance of those supposed six-year-old kids, probably makes no sense anyway) or his contributions to man’s knowledge, his stove, his “discovery of electricity” and his adages included in Poor Richard’s Almanack?

                  It is a matter of focusing on important accomplishments instead of gossip. Most any liberal will tell you that L’affaire Lewinsky was a distraction from the Clinton Administration’s achievements — but they focus on comparable twaddle when discussing our antecedents.

                  1. The fundamental question is, “What’s important about this person?”


                    But go up to someone in the street and show them proof that a person they look up to has $SERIOUS_PROBLEM.

                    Chances are that at least partially flips their world, because they were not taught this.

                  2. The Leftoids’ problem is that they demand Great Men Persons Of Indeterminate Gender, and any flaws make them Not Great.

                    Unless they were Leftoids. Then their flaws count for nothing.

                    Whereas we look up to people who have Done Great Things. We don’t demand that they be Great In Every Way, only that they contributed Something Important to history. Benjamin Franklin had a questionable personal life, but his contributions to Natural Philosophy and our early government are undeniable. Andrew Jackson was a bigoted asshole, but he saved the United States by preventing the British from sacking New Orleans and sailing ships of the line up the Mississippi. Donald Trump is bombastic and self-aggrandizing, but his governmental policies have benefited this country immensely.
                    “They were the bad guys, as you say, we were the good guys, and they made a very satisfying THUMP when they hit the floor!”

                    1. The Leftoids’ problem is that they demand Great Men Persons Of Indeterminate Gender, and any flaws make them Not Great.



                      THAT IS [long string of cursing deleted].

                      Ok, this makes more sense now.

              1. But how else are they going to be inoculated against reactionary propaganda and be steered towards becoming Young Revolutionary Pioneers?

                1. You cut off all other sources of information. The slavering on Twitter about how they can silence conservatives has to be seen to be believed.

                  1. It boggles the mind, doesn’t it? First, the far-leftist vermin hound conservatives, libertarians, and the odd objectivist or three out of their screeching, far-leftist hate dens, and then the scuttling filth howl with fury when the Fair Folk begin to establish their own glorious kingdoms in distant lands.

                    Holy jumping crap, Batman … yes. It has to be seen to be believed. O_o

            2. Although it is commonly mis-represented, American Exceptionalism is not a form of self-aggrandizement. It refers to the fact that America is exceptional among nations in originating from a creed, a philosophy. In America as in no place else sovereignty originally flows from the citizen to the state rather from the crown down.

              Since our founding other states have imitated that principle but never implemented fully. France’s revolution accorded rights to citizens but the terms of citizenship are different there. Americans, even those tracing lineage to the Mayflower, derive no greater authenticity by ancestry. Sure, in some small towns you can be “the new family” for three generations — but in the rest of the world you will always be “the new family” no longer how long your family’s lived there.

              That‘s what American Exceptionalism is.

              1. American Exceptionalism is not a form of self-aggrandizement.

                The self-aggrandizement part is at the personal level.

                “Here is $GROUP which is amazing! This means I am amazing purely through membership! [Even though I have done nothing to earn any of this.]”

                That‘s what American Exceptionalism is.

                Huh, I though it was just Standard Issue “This is the best country” memes. (not meaning that in a derogatory way, simply that it is the norm (well when not infected with communism)).

                  1. Exce-, hmm. *thinks*

                    Sanity check: What exactly is it that people are deriving from that?

                    Because I happened to be born here cannot give me a claim on any of what is good about America: I had nothing to do with it after all. If there is any such connection it would have to be an unremitting crushing debt. Uh, rather literally “unearned privilege”.

                    (and this gets worse when considering that I was allowed to vote, despite having zero legitimate claim to a franchise)

                    1. You need to embrace it and try to BE the best of it.

                      It is rather like (Protestant) Christianity, except without the understanding that “No, you cannot measure up, and that has been taken into account”.

                    2. No, we DO understand that.
                      Look, most people aren’t going to be heroes.
                      If you’re a good — civic — citizen and play fair, your role will be TINY. But it’s enough. Because a lot of tiny roles make a large miracle.

                    3. Because I happened to be born here cannot give me a claim on any of what is good about America: I had nothing to do with it after all.

                      You’re not breaking it.

                      There’s a difference.

                    4. I know you’re cynical enough to have noticed that there’s different flavors of “not responsible.”

                      There’s the folks who are not trying to make trouble (not breaking anything) and there’s people who are “not doing anything”…that doesn’t cause harm, unless they really want to.

                      Try a story version.

                      Frodo carried the ring from the Prancing Pony to Elrond, right? And Aragorn fought to protect him? And Sam really can’t take credit for doing much of anything, there.
                      But he wasn’t damaging it, either.

                      Vs the guys in the bar who really didn’t do any good, and did do some harm. (At this piont, I can’t remember if the cousins actually screwed up at that point or not.)

                    5. That example is still at the individual level. Closer would be one of the random hobbits on the far end of the Shire having a good feeling because “they” were taking the ring to Rivendell.

                    6. No, it isn’t.

                      One, the Shire at large didn’t know or care about the Ring; if anything, they generally slightly disapproved of the habit Bilbo had given Frodo of heading out for adventures, but were too polite to stick their noses in.
                      Secondly, some of the folks in the Shire did rather rudely involve themselves and make the whole Ring thing worse off.

                      If you want something for the Shire as a whole, you’d have to look at something like the Scourging of the Shire– when some folks fought, and some folks were just more passive.

                      Or you can look at an evil version, like AntiFa– some are attacking cops, some are organizing how to set gas stations on fire, and some are just standing there being human shields.

                      It’s the inverse of the idea that evil can win if good simply does nothing– good will win even if most people do nothing simply because they do not have an opportunity to do so.

                    7. One, the Shire at large didn’t know or care about the Ring; if anything, they generally slightly disapproved of the habit Bilbo had given Frodo of heading out for adventures, but were too polite to stick their noses in.

                      I was speaking of a hypothetical hobbit who knew what was up. But sure, I’ll use this example instead:

                      If you want something for the Shire as a whole, you’d have to look at something like the Scourging of the Shire– when some folks fought, and some folks were just more passive.

                      Ok, so you have Mr. Passive; goes to work in his field one morning and when he returns home hears the news. Then proceeds to cheer that “we” beat the rascals.

                      No he didn’t. There is no shame in that; he didn’t know what was about to happen. But he has no more share in the victory than a random dwarf up in Erebor. Actually the dwarf would have a greater claim because Erebor took the brunt of a few armies and tied up forces that may otherwise have obliterated the Shire.

                    8. Ok, so you have Mr. Passive; goes to work in his field one morning and when he returns home hears the news. Then proceeds to cheer that “we” beat the rascals.

                      Oh, and those who were leading the orcs a merry chase are going to live on sunshine and air?

                    9. By being part of the solution– if it is by confounding the Orcs, or “just” by making it so there’s food and supplies for the Shire at large– he is part of the solution.

                      Now, if he were to have an opportunity to choose helping the Orcs, or helping the Shire, and chose the Orcs because that was the passive response, that’s different– that is actually causing damage to the Shire.
                      “For what I have done, and what I have failed to do,” as the listing of sins goes.

                    10. At what point has the definition been expanded to meaninglessness?

                      Maybe this angle will be clearer…

                      A certain type of Fool says; “Behold! People with such and such skin color / genital configuration / whatever are better at life and have made the world better! I too have this trait, therefore I am better.”.

                      Aside from the moral issues, this is nonsense. It doesn’t *matter* how many inventors had the same polka dot skin as the fool if he spends his days in a drunken stupor in the middle of a trash dump. Their accomplishments never reflect on him, his worthlessness never reflects on them. Group credit and group guilt are two sides of the same bullshit coin.

                      So what is the difference that makes this reasoning suddenly kosher when the group is a nation or culture?

                    11. You might want to contemplate the Passover parable of the Four Sons:

                      – The “Wise” Son
                      – The Wicked Son
                      – The Simple (or Lazy) Son
                      – The Son who Doesn’t Know Enough to Ask

                      The wise son “asks, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies, statutes, and laws which the L-rd our G-d has commanded us?’ He understands that he is a servant of Hashem, and asks only “What does the Master want me to do?””

                      He is therefore answered in a dignified manner, providing information and content, in accord with the attitude and tone of his question.

                      The wicked son “asks, “What does this service mean to you?”

                      And he is answered in kind. This type of attitude is inappropriate for a Jew. Our highest goal should be to be like Moshe, a trusted servant of Hashem. If one wishes to exclude himself from the service of G-d, he excludes himself from the Community of Israel.

                      “If he were there (and he was not, and cannot have been, because of his self-exclusion) he would not have been redeemed.”

                    12. 1. Not a Jew. (ethnic or religious)

                      2. Does it have one for “Core training sufficiently at odds with everyone else’s experience that it results in SYSTEM_ERROR”?

                    13. At what point has the definition been expanded to meaninglessness?

                      Since you keep smashing it flat, instead of trying to identify what people are conveying to you, really damned fast…. Try figuring it out before you try to break it. (Not to be confused with “don’t try to break it.”)

                      For all that you talk about wanting to look broader, you keep fixating on absolutely tiny, individual sections of a situation. It’s like the Greek Gods punishing Oedipus because he killed his father and married his mother, while ignoring that he was forcibly prevented from knowing either of them.
                      Can you see how that context changes the action, and the quality of the character involved?

                      Your original objection was that either you don’t “count” as an American, or American Exceptionalism is just empty bragging.

                      Well, move back to the Shire. It’s been pointed out that the Shire produced Hobbits, who have specific characteristics– humble, quiet, generous, loyal, mostly polite– which formed Bilbo and Frodo and the rest of the Hobbits of the Fellowship into something that could defeat the Dark Lord.

                      The actions are theirs– but the society that produces such people belongs to that society.
                      Societies are a lot of work. It’s the fertile field that takes a lot of tending to be ready for seeds to grow.

                      It’s the opposite of the “kill it, skin it, demand respect” cycle we’ve seen so much of– which may be why it’s giving you such trouble, because of the whole “absorbing assumptions without knowing it because that’s all that is offered” thing. Sarah’s mentioned she still smacks into it, some times.

                    14. It’s the opposite of the “kill it, skin it, demand respect” cycle we’ve seen so much of– which may be why it’s giving you such trouble, because of the whole “absorbing assumptions without knowing it because that’s all that is offered” thing. Sarah’s mentioned she still smacks into it, some times.

                      Yes and No.

                      No, because knowing the deep rooted assumptions isn’t hard here: Anything group is presumptively evil.

                      Yes, because that is simply one of the paths someone might go down as a result of kill/skin/respect. I’d go so far as to argue that anyone who went through the hellhole that was the 20th century and didn’t develop a certain level of cynicism about group activity wasn’t paying attention.

                      I’ve mostly gotten rid of the presumptively evil part. That still leaves everything that is not individual level — or small enough group to count as a bucket of individual relationships — as completely alien.

                      If you drew a “value map”, showing the different categories people use (individual/family/tribal/civic/etc), mine would probably have individual reaching across most the the territory, into the low civic. And then stop.

                      Roughly I’m operating on the premise that this is an invalid way of viewing the world. Unfortunately — from my perspective — the arguments against that seem to consist of nothing but repeating that it exists, but without any evidence that isn’t explicable by “bucket of individuals”.

                      Your original objection was that either you don’t “count” as an American, or American Exceptionalism is just empty bragging.

                      What’s the joke? “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.”

                      Ok not quite true: I am a (neophyte) member of a voluntary culture, that I worked to get into. But the principle remains.

                    15. There’s cynicism, and there’s “ignoring that the groups were uniformly of novel philosophies designed to exploit good group activity, and were beaten by the more balanced groups they were preying on.

                    16. There were people who were never in a position to see a healthy group.

                      Our Hostess said I was raised by wolves… there is some truth to that. But more accurate would be “people who never had the chance to see anything but evil from the collective, and no ability to resist it. So they built in a bunch of safeguards that make it impossible to connect to one”.

                      Heh… a certain plot line in Star Trek: Voyager comes to mind.

                    17. There were people who were never in a position to see a healthy group.

                      Chesterton actually had a lot to say on the matter; he’s heavy going, but if you go read him as a conversation with the guy,

                      This might be a good start, if not simply with the Father Brown mysteries:

                      Chesterton died before WWII. Something I had to remind myself of A LOT when I finally sat down to try to chew through it.

                    18. and a reminder of the firewall between religious and everyday-functioning morality

                      That sounds a hell of a lot like the “no laws that are religiously motivated” which always has the unwritten exception of “unless they’re ones that _I_ like.”

                      Heinlein appears to have been alluding to Natural Law theory, just redefining “moral” to make it sound less intimidating.

                      For a speech, not bad, especially given his target audience. (says the sailor)

                      But not to be taken for more than it is…..

                    19. Depends on the sect, and how autistically rigorous one considers the rules.

                      Technically, can’t make a determination on the ending story for lack of important information. Which is why it is useless for everyday work.

                    20. For mature Christian and Jewish philosophies, they have dealt with the “autisticly rigorous” thing.

                      ‘s why philosophy is good, rather than looking for a simplified ruleset and then complaining it doesn’t deal with something that has more depth. (Not specifically you at that point, just a standing annoyance for folks whose brains turn off at “Religion.”)

                    21. I meant “autisticly rigorous” in the sense of certain words having very specific meanings, almost completely different from colloquial usage.

                      Failing to understand that gets you in trouble with the karens, and other wielders of the religious bludgeon. In theory it is possible to hoist them with their own petard, but they sadly tend to squirm out of the argument.

                    22. Knowing the philosophy better than they do gets you back out.

                      The abuse of religious authority via substituting their own authority has been my dragon of choice for a good twenty-odd years, now. Mostly because they seem to target geeks– and as a geek, I’m decently good at finding the authoritative sources that show they’re not just wrong, but usually backwards.

                    23. Knowing the philosophy better than they do gets you back out.


                      Imagine someone who could argue honestly enough for that. What next? The working planetary scale communist utopia?

                      Why yes! I do have a microscopically low view of the average Christian. Never seen one that wasn’t either a gross heretic (no offense intended, I include myself in all that), or a monster.

                      Far easier to deal with non-proselytizing athiests. They can at least be interesting from time to time. Hell, if the universe was pickable picking an atheistic universe would be by far preferable. It would at least have a chance of hope.


                      Did I write that?

                    24. Who said anything about arguing?

                      I haven’t had any problems once I show that they’re wrong. Mostly because if they try to argue, they will have to embarrass themselves, and I try to be careful to give them an out if possible.

                      Sometimes, it’s not. Then they generally go to yelling at me, which also doesn’t work.

                    25. Your original objection was that either you don’t “count” as an American, or American Exceptionalism is just empty bragging.

                      Actually…. no. My *original* question was more along the lines of “How does one write HFY without simply inflating their head?”.

                      If the author “identifies with” humanity… dangerous self-aggrandizement. If the author doesn’t “identify with”, then what is the point of what they are writing?

                    26. Two replies wasn’t enough I guess…

                      I wrote:

                      If the author “identifies with” humanity… dangerous self-aggrandizement. If the author doesn’t “identify with”, then what is the point of what they are writing?

                      I….. think I can sharpen the position I’m hypothetically supporting.

                      If someone is “identifying with” $GIANT_GROUP… why? WTF are they smoking?

                      The chance they have even the slightest influence of the direction of the group at these scales is effectively zero, so pretty much throw up your hands and hope it goes well (we call 0.0000000000001% effect a rounding error for a reason).

                      On the flip side; one’s family probably cares about them, and one’s local networks presumably care about them to some degree, but it is neither conceivable nor reasonable for “society” to give a shit. See also: one of the many reasons why communism implodes ASAP.

                      Essentially it is the point that Peterson made about nihilists asking “what will it matter in a million years?”, and that that is the wrong scale to be thinking on. Although he would not agree with what I’m saying here; he is the only person I’ve ever heard give a coherent defense of society.

                      In the past I might have also noted with confusion people “identifying with a character”. Except that that has happened, so I can sort of glark it even if I can’t describe it.

                    27. If someone is “identifying with” $GIANT_GROUP… why? WTF are they smoking?

                      You’re assuming the conclusion– that there isn’t a shared trait to identify with.

                      I have identified with dragons, computers and in a recent D&D campaign the mage-eating dagger made of a shard of a Voldemort ripoff. (he redeemed himself from that pre-dug hole and got a happy ending, too)

                      It is wrong to “identify” with traits that are not relevant; it is right to “identify” with traits that are relevant.

                      Grouping me with female-and-same-age will go badly; grouping me with sailors-technicians-ranchers will go better.

                    28. “Grouping me with female-and-same-age will go badly; grouping me with sailors-technicians-ranchers will go better.”

                      The difference being grouping by traits/characteristics that you were born with vs traits/characteristics you CHOSE.

                      The free choice aspect is vital.

                    29. *Waggles hand*

                      Going off of my ancestors, and relatives, a lot of the traits are not chosen. Introvert, Odd, very high rate of “on the spectrum”.

                      They’re just a lot more relevant to behavior than a three or five times removed trait like “sex.”

                      See also, the “race discrimination” policies that when you adjust for fatherlessness, vanish, and if you can get in deeply enough to identify a hard to describe flavor of authority they grew up lacking, and a certain type of patch that’s also hard to describe, result in Generally Very Bad Results. (“Absent father-figure, raised mostly by daycare” comes close, but even that isn’t very precise.)

                    30. Grouping me with female-and-same-age will go badly; grouping me with sailors-technicians-ranchers will go better.


                      Which leads to: “what is the shared trait for a nation/culture?”, that is also sufficiently general that it isn’t limited to one specific region at one brief time, and doesn’t lead to “well, 10% of my fellow X are insufficiently pure in the doctrine, progrom time”.

                    31. The shared trait for American has always been “the Constitution and Declaration of Independence”.

                      And if you think that won’t lead to “well, 10% of my fellow X are insufficiently pure in the doctrine, pogrom time”, all I’m going to say that if it doesn’t allow you to address 10% working to kill it, you’ll end up precisely where we are now.;

                    32. I know that it the intended answer for America.

                      But that is like saying “this couple fell in love because X reason”. Useful if you are trying to understand that particular couple, but misses that there is an extremely general and robust mechanism for creating those necessary bonds. To the point where specific details are almost irrelevant if you are trying to understand the mechanism.

                      There is a mechanism that allows people who don’t know each other (and might even hate each other’s guts if they were close) to view themselves as all part of the same country. And choice is not relevant here, as almost no one chooses their country.

                    33. “And choice is not relevant here, as almost no one chooses their country.”

                      Horseshit of the purest ray serene. No difference than saying that baptism at birth means no one chooses their religion.

                      “There is a mechanism that allows people who don’t know each other (and might even hate each other’s guts if they were close) to view themselves as all part of the same country”

                      Yes, it’s called citizenship, which again is an allegiance each of us individually chooses every day. Or not.

                    34. Well, last thing first, stable cultures have a lot of ruin in them.

                      For the first, that’s rather what Sarah is working on– the basic assumptions, what is Good vs what is Automatically Worrysome, etc.

                    35. Also something I should make explicitly clear: I can do some / most of this stuff. As long as I don’t think about it.

                      Rather like the story of the caterpillar who was asked how he walked with so many legs, and then couldn’t walk.

                      But not being able to understand it is intolerable when there is also deep training constantly hammering the “This Is Wrong” button.

                  2. Ok.

                    What is it to “belong” at nation scale?

                    If there are no obligations in either direction then what reason is there to not simply whip up a Feeling Of Belonging drug and take that to fill the need? (hold your horses Bob; it is only a thought experiment)

                    If there are obligations in one direction, then there must be equal ones in the other direction. And there must be a justification for them.


                    Every time I try to approach this topic it slips away even as I’m typing it…..

                    1. Ian!
                      I don’t have time to give you a civics education, and it’s late, and Dan is already in bed.
                      Read Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
                      If you can’t answer your own questions after that, you might know how to ask them BETTER.

                    2. Read Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

                      Did. Made the questions harder. Also part way through Citizen of the Galaxy, which appears more directly useful to a bunch of related questions. Might have to reread Moon, as I don’t remember anything about this.

                      ST has a very elegant way to answer by not answering. Each candidate is simply placed under enough of the right pressure to form their own deeply personal answer if they are capable of it. If not…. they don’t.

                1. More like “Here is $GROUP which is amazing! This means I am amazing by being a contributing member of $GROUP. Even if my contributions are small and mild ones, resulting in me being amazing in only a small and mild way.”

                  Also, it’s easy to underestimate how the ordinary accomplishments of ordinary Americans can look extraordinary to outsiders, and so it’s good to be reminded of that every so often.

                2. I though it was just Standard Issue ‘This is the best country’ memes.

                  That is mere chauvinism. People who hate America want to paint American Exceptionalism as chauvinism but they’re pushing a false equivalency. American Exceptionalism does not mean “America is better than any other nation” — it means America is different from all other nations.

                  Fundamentally so.

                  1. American Exceptionalism does not mean “America is better than any other nation”

                    But it is better than any other country, despite its long list of issues. Partly because it is different.

                    1. Different and better because we’ve eliminated one locus of failure and (generally) managed to establish a system of exposing failure before it becomes catastrophic.

                      But maybe it is merely because we’ve had less time to build up a bureaucracy.

      2. For America and American character/exceptionalism I’ll suggest Two Lucky People the memoirs of Milton and Rose Friedman. Although it is a bit dense, requiring an older Odd Bright adoptive grandchild.

      3. American character? Consider the American folk myths and how they fundamentally differ from European ones. American myths are working stiffs, even if larger than life. Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, Joe Magrac (from the steel mills), Alfred Bulltop Stormalong (sailing out of Massachusetts), Windwagon Smith, Molly Pitcher, Hugh Glass, High John the Conqueror, John Henry and Johnny Appleseed.

        America’s myths focus on uncommon common people, working class heroes and heroines.

          1. Me neither. The wiki article suggests that he may have been a whole cloth invention from around 1931, when he first appeared, and goes on to say that he’s “fakelore” ie, not originating from any older oral traditions.

            To which I go “Nyah nyah.” Just because there isn’t older iteration of the character does NOT make it somehow a fake folklore hero. There is not, so far as I have ever seen, some magical cut off date for “any character invented after doesn’t count as folklore.”

            But yeah, apparently he was a Pittsburgh steelworker folklore hero from the early-mid 20th century, born in a steel mill and made of steel. (To which I say “Oh. So he’s a comic book superhero who missed the comics?” Because what are those but also folkloric characters?)

            1. I think the cut-off for “real folklore” is “it’s as old as I thought it was.”

              Does sound like someone looked at standard American tall-tales, and looked at jobs folks were doing now so folks would know it, and made a story for them.

              You know, like private detectives….

              1. I read, somewhere on the internets long ago, an interesting article that posited that the reason so many people like fanfiction (reading it or writing it) is that it’s a form of modern folklore/tale telling around the campfire that satisfies the need in us. Ready-made characters of a certain archetype, and you make up new adventures.

                It did sort of gloss over the whole “97% of fanfic out there is actually porn” but then again anyone who takes more than a passing look at most mythology wouldn’t be surprised at that, either. I mean, even setting aside the obvious Greek mythology (and the university trope of “really it symbolized the rape of more female centric cultures by an aggressive male-dominated one, ie, the Greeks” still makes my lip curl to this day), I’m fairly sure at half of the Norse tales I’ve read translate to “Loki sleeps with something he/she probably shouldn’t have…”

                1. “I’m fairly sure at half of the Norse tales I’ve read translate to “Loki sleeps with something he/she probably shouldn’t have…””

                  Or just wants to. 😉

                  “it’s a form of modern folklore/tale telling around the campfire that satisfies the need in us. Ready-made characters of a certain archetype, and you make up new adventures.”

                  Or to quote a Master:
                  “Man, Sub-Creator, the refracted Light
                  through whom is refracted from a single white
                  to many hues, and endlessly combined”

            2. I have read 19th century folklorist who simply assume that folktales lasted unchanged from the Stone Age.

              They still refer to the introduction of a new element into a story as “contamination” because the original folklorists were so sure that they were pretty much unchanging.

          2. Okay – my spelling error (or perhaps typoing) it is Joe Magarac. Steelworkers’ hero, which strongly suggests he couldn’t be all that old. Paul Bunyan conceivably predates American independence, but no way John Henry predates railroads, nor Pecos Bill the post-Civil War cowboy era.

            It doesn’t matter if he’s as faux-folk as Betty Crocker — folk tales become real by retelling, just as real folk, such as Johnny Appleseed become legends.

  11. Three books off my daughter’s bookshelf:
    A is for America by Greg Paprocki, A Babylit book. It’s an Alphabet book that features a bunch of American ideas.

    H is for Honor: A Military Family
    Alphabet by Devin Scillian. This is also an alphabet book, but goes much deeper into the chosen concepts.

    The Rockets Red Glare by Peter Alderman. This is intended more for early grade school, but tells the story behind the Star Spangled Banner.

    In terms of Christian Theology, I’d have to write something myself. There are good things out there, but I haven’t really been looking. One area to start with is to have the kids memorize the Apostles Creed and explain the meaning behind what it talks about.

    1. yeah, for our particular denomination, I taught the kids. I had taught religious education, so it wasn’t too bad.
      My adopted grandkids span the spectrum of Christian denominations, and none, so that’s not my purview. It was just a “this is the same as.”

  12. Just want to say I really appreciate all optimistic posts and comments here. I can feel myself slipping back into depression and anxiety and I just got over a big spell. The media gaslighting is really getting to me but the worst thing is being surrounded by friends and family who swallow it all hook, line and sinker. Sorry if I sound melodramatic or attention seeking- I just really tell in love with and view this site as a haven. Thank you.

    1. At the risk of being a broken record, try Everything is HIGH ENERGY and refusing to surrender knowing that we are winning this.

      Also it is a couple days ahead of even the non-cucked news sites.

    2. I went to bed under the black dog, and I’m still not great.
      BUT I’m determined not to stop fighting.
      Remember Heinlein: “It’s better to be a live lamb than a dead lion, but it’s better to be a live lion. Easier too.”

      1. Sarah, one of the reasons I started going to your site (I first “discovered” you on L. Neil Smith’s Libertarian Enterprise) was because you mentioned that you too are followed by the black dog and I instantly became sympathetic because I know what it is to have that burden on top of being so sane in an insane world.
        I just feel, in my gut, my bones,that something is going to snap soon, which will almost certainly be violent and terrifying for everyone no matter what side you are on. It might be the start of something new and better, but the strain of waiting is often worse than the breaking itself.

        1. Part of it’s the black dog. Part of it’s being, a la Sam Vimes, permanently knurd.

          Sometimes I wonder if there’s any way to “sober up” most people from their delusional view of reality.

              1. Spit on our hands, hoist the black flag and start slitting throats.
                My flag is going to go out tomorrow. It’s Don’t tread on me, in black. If the neighbors kill me, you’ll hear.

                1. Here’s some throat slitting music for you …

                  Admittedly, some prefer Steeleye Span’s cover.

        2. I HOPE what comes after is better.
          And I hope something snaps as terrible as it will be. And even if I might not live through it.
          Because there are worse things than war.

          1. “Because there are worse things than war.”

            Yeah the only thing worse than a bang is a whimper…

    3. Yeah, I can’t really have good conversations with people who trust the media. It’s made things difficult when relatives are visiting.

  13. I was a voracious reader from very early on (I figured out how to sound out words in the newspaper on my own after learning the alphabet at around 4 or 5: I was, and remain, a newspaper comics fan lol).

    And I know I read every book in each of the four elementary schools I attended, including a couple of the dictionaries (and most of at least one set of the encyclopedias, A-Z). And all – literally all – of the science fiction (including public county and the nearby JC libraries).

    (My love of SF started in the 5th grade, when one day our home room teacher brought in a box of loaners from the local JC library, and the biggest book in the first of several boxes was the unabridged 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea… yeah, I went by size, because they’d last the longest lol… I read all the Verne books after that… along with a bunch of other 19th century authors. I discovered at around that age that 19th century writers seemed more… literate: yeah, let’s use “literate”… by comparison to 20th century writers.)

    So much for my unnecessary, TL?/DR bonafides lol.

    One of my favorite book categories as a child was early American biographies (which included lives of the Founders, and other important – even mythic – American figures). I became a life-long history buff as a result of absorbing those simple narratives (which means I’m even more than usual totally impatient with the idiots trying to rewrite history… my disgust with the unadulterated and pure ignorance of those morons rivals my disgust with the Nazi book-burners, and the Stalinists).

    As you’ve sussed, it was the children’s biographies that gave my childhood biases a firm grounding in early American history… a sympathetic one (even through the worst phases of my Vietnam era political leanings, I knew that America was founded by extraordinary people).

    I dunno if this is the exact same series of child directed biographies that I particularly-and-fondly remember, but they seem close:

    Just sayin’.

    1. Exactly, you posted this while I was writing my own remembrance of these. There were a lot of them available at one time. There isn’t even any overlap between your list and mine.

      1. There’s one particular story-snip I remember fondly… turns out, straight out of Adams’ autobiography, found at

        “My [Enthusiasm for Sports and Inattention to Books,] allarmed my [Father, and he] frequently entered into conversation with me upon the Subject. I told him [I did not?] love Books and wished he would lay aside the thoughts of sending me to Colledge. What would you do Child? Be a Farmer. A Farmer? Well I will shew you what it is to be a Farmer. You shall go with me to Penny ferry tomorrow Morning and help me get Thatch. I shall be very glad to go Sir. — Accordingly next morning he took me with him, and with great good humour kept me all day with him at Work. At night at home he said Well John are you satisfied with being a Farmer. Though the Labour had been very hard and very muddy I answered I like it very well Sir. Ay but I dont like it so well: so you shall go to School to day.”

        Maybe a thing I could practice illustrating

    2. “19th century writers seemed more… literate: yeah, let’s use “literate”… by comparison to 20th century writers”

      I both agree and disagree with you on this. There are a lot of 20th Century writers, particularly Politically Enlightened types, whose writing marks them as terra cotta toothed imbeciles. OTOH, a lot of 19th Century writers were not so much literate as verbose. Top grade Victorian or Edwardian age writing can be VERY literate indeed. Second grade on down is a torrent of words, many of them unnecessary or unnecessarily highbrow, that must be waded through. Often, it simply isn’t worth the effort.

      It’s interesting to note that many of the very best writers of that era were often noticeably LESS verbose than the norm of the time. Kipling was a revelation; in an era given to three-volume novels, he could tall a tale of nearly equal complexity in forty pages. Ulysses S. Grant is another case in point; his autobiography is a shining example of clarity, exceptionally rare for period, genera (autobiographies tend to ramble) and subject (military memoirs tend to be full of sniping or self-justification or both; Grant managed to write his while only be at all vindictive once).

      1. By “literate” I was not referring to verbose lol.

        Rather, I noticed that word usage and writing structure was more, hmm, precise? Perhaps more logical (for my thought patterning, at least)?

        It wasn’t that 19th century writers wrote a lot of unnecessary crap on a page… what I noticed – as a child – was that they used wording and structure that seemed to have since devolved (if you will)… at least from the perspective of when I noticed the difference between 19th and 20th century writing.

        Nor do I mean that some 20th century writers couldn’t be quite, er, literate. (I love Austen, but that doesn’t mean I don’t positively dote on Georgette Heyer lol.) Especially the early 20th century writers… whom would have been taught by 19th century teachers, eh?

        Thinking about it now, I think I may have patterned on 19th century phrasing and vocabulary (because, really, Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues was the first adult book I read, and the first author whose name I recall, and I was VERY impressed – indeed, fascinated – by the writing and the content at an early age… and it may have ruined me lol).

        My childhood was all a rather long time ago now lol…

        1. The difference between children’s books of the late 19th and first half of the 20th century and then the stuff after is amazing. I re-read the Wind in the Willows after many years and the grammar and vocabulary is very mature. I’m assuming at least partly because it was intended to be read aloud? Even the Hobbit, which is much simpler than LOTR, but still probably too difficult to be read by most American school kids until *at least* middle school, probably later.

          1. That’s because education, particularly when it comes to basics like literacy and math, has been so degraded and dumbed down that the level of skill that young people had back then is often greater than that of middle and high school students now; and it gets worse very year.

            The left’s solution of course is to try to ban parents teaching children these things on their own because it creates “an unfair advantage” and is a product of “privilege”

            In other words, “social justice” demands that all the children be equally ignorant.

            1. True. It makes me wonder how much of I and my children driving our teachers up the wall was high intellect, and how much was just that we’d already learned all that stuff at home.

              My eldest at five on the way home from a walk told my husband that “Mommy must be home; her vehicle is in the drive.” That was the point we realized our normal vocabulary wasn’t ‘normal’.

      2. It is worth noting that a favorite author of General & Mrs. Grant was Edward Bulwer-Lytton, he of “the dark and stormy night” as well as “the pen is mightier than the sword,”

        OTOH, Bulwer-Lytton never had to dash off an order to be delivered to the other side of a battle.

  14. I remember some Bruce Catton novels accessible to early/mid-teen me. One title was Banners at Shenandoah. Harold Keith’s Rifles for Waite, another Civil War era novel. (He also did a duo featuring a kid taken by the Comanche.) Madeline Polland had a bunch of historical juvenile novels of all eras often featuring missionaries, or believers in pagan lands, some of which dealt with early America. Elswyth Thane’s Williamsburg series started with the Revolution (Dawn’s Early Light) and while aimed at adults, I read it in my mid teens.

    I know I read a ton of historical fiction back then but the books have vanished from libraries and few titles have stuck. There was definitely one focused on Francis Marion, Swamp Fox of the revolution. Oh, The Sherwood Ring, by Pope, was a family ghosts tell history to new family member. The ghosts are from both sides of the Revolution.

    Johnny Shiloh by Rhodes, focused on the boy of that nickname. Civil War, again. I don’t know why those titles stuck better.

    Some months back I saw a collection of such stuff that somebody was reprinting. Anyone else see and recall who/what/details?

    Maybe those Louis L’Amour books that start with crossing the Atlantic and go through history from there? I haven’t read them, but what of his I’ve read I’ve liked and they’re all accessible.

  15. When I was 10? 11? 12? or about then, I read most of the Childhood Of Famous Americans Series. There were very few illustrations but they were very easy reads. The first few chapters were highly fictionalized accounts of the persons childhood. These were followed by a short summary of what they did as adults. I read a bunch of them as my father was selling textbooks to schools at the time and had lots of salesman’s samples. They were mostly written before the current era of political correctness and even in the early sixties were being criticized for painting too rosy a picture of America.

    Some that I remember: Nathaniel Green, Molly Pitcher, Daniel Boone, Davy Crocket, Jim Bridger, Annie Oakley. Jedediah Smith, George Armstrong Custer, Francis Marion, Benjamin Franklin, Clara Barton. I don’t know if any of them are still available, but they would fit somewhere in the reading list you want.

    1. Buffalo Bill, Sitting Bull, Robert Peary, Virginia Dare, Pocahontas, Sacagawea, U.S, Grant, George Washington Carver were others I read in that series. My teacher (I think it was in 3rd grade, when I was 8) had a set of red-covered hardbacks in the classroom. I devoured them and still remember them. I find that many of them were they reissued in the 1980s in paperback and are apparently still in print LibraryThing has a list of titles in the series.

        1. Mom’s 86. It hasn’t stopped her or her friends … just saying … Her doctor joked that she was going to live well beyond 100. She really is in better shape medically than her parents were at the same point.

          FWIW grandparents were 93 before they slowed down. We got their licenses revoked. Grandpa was all but blind from Glaucoma & Cataracts. Grandma wasn’t much better from Macular Degeneration & Cataracts. Until then we used to joke … “The little old lady driving a pickup that you barely see in the driver’s window, who is looking out the windshield through the driver’s wheel, towing an RV trailer … is grandma. Get out of their way!” Modified to “driving the class *C RV”. Grandma drove because grandpa couldn’t see well enough to drive. BUT he parked the truck/trailer, & later motorhome, exactly where he wanted it in the campsite spot. He’d get out, look over the site, get behind the wheel, and done.

          * We thought we had them stumped when the truck broke down on I-5 south of Eugene when they were 85. Nope. Traded the broken down truck & trailer for a used Class C (stupid Romania Dealership).

          Note. Loosing their driver’s licenses still didn’t stop them. Just someone had to make the two+ hour round trip to get them for holidays & other family occasions. Not to mention the people in Drain who dealt with them daily. Just saying …

          1. I managed to survive a bout of Lyme about 12 years ago… I was a year into wondering if I was dying from “progressive old age” at the time (Lyme symptoms can remarkably mirror your worst hypochondriacal fears of what being enfeebled and failing will be like as you age), before I figured out what the weird “spider bite” of the previous year’s November was (the bite was memorable as… it was the classic Lyme bullseye and lasted for a couple of weeks, I’d thought it odd enough at the time to discuss the oddity of it with my wife, and a few weeks later I’d experienced flu-like symptoms too).

            And was fortunate enough to have a cooperative doctor/friend who basically allowed me to self-prescribe a treatment regimen (as I’d read far more about the science and treatment of Lyme than he had time for). I was lucky. It worked. The damn treatment almost killed me tho’ lol. And I worried about recurrence for 5 years after.

            That and covid are the worst sicknesses I’ve experienced over the decades.

            So seconding your Pop in anticipation of the 80 milestone being reached?, Yeah. I’d say have 10-20 or so more years before I feel particularly OLD lol.

            … still hoping for an autodoc or prolong in the interim though.

            1. I can’t be old. Mom’s Old. She says she can’t be Old. Her friends, a lot of them, are older (90+). Although she admits she doesn’t have the same energy she had with her grandchildren … or “great-grandchildren are exhausting!”

          2. At 82 I admit I do feel older but not old. I can still do most of the things I could do when I was younger (admittedly a bit slower); fell trees, split firewood, etc., chase wild women…

            Note the, a bit slower, not suggesting I can catch them any more. -grin-

            Seriously though, if one’s life is full and interesting before turning 60, it’s just as much fun after.

      1. Some trite, oft-repeated observations.

        In no particular order.

        • The years really do become fleeting, and can blend together. “Wait! It’s 2021? Huh? Already? Are you sure?” happens as often as “I swear I thought it was Tuesday” (on Wednesday evening) lol.

        • Friends not seen since childhood (up through the teen years), are a treasure when you “rediscover” them (for that only, God Bless FB lol). Even the “friends” (emphasis on quotes) you don’t remember at all fondly. Reminiscence is, actually, a thing.

        • Reflection is a thing too.

        • Issues you recall as being of vital importance, turn out to be “not so much”. The concomitant is also true. Priorities will change.

        • You really do take more time smelling roses. And paying close attention to brilliant sunsets. And the clearest of night skies.

        • Sleep is vastly overrated, and oft unnecessary (something I’ve always fallen outside the norm of though lol). That said, hibernation of-a-sort in cold, late Fall of approaching Winter is a thing I now think.

        • Good health and reasonable fitness you pay MUCH more attention to, and are more appreciative of. The physical you is both more valuable, and more precious, than when you were younger.

        • The last line from Nash’s poem about “But old men know when an old man dies” reaches a poignant level of intensity. (I probably read that poem for the first time 55 plus years ago… it hit me then, it hits me now, more.)

        • Mortality. ‘Nuff said.

        • Vignettes of the past can seem closer than yesterday’s primary focus.

        • Family is vastly more important (granted I was a selfish, self-centered, get… so likely I fall outside the norm for such an observation lol). Children, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins (and all their kids)… even into their many thousands (true in our case, since the great-grandparents on both the paternal grandparent side had litters (in the 1960’s there were some 4000 descendants of the paternal line and side branches mentioned at one family reunion: gawd only knows what the number would be now lol).

        • Do NOT stop working and learning and doing. And planning for the future. You WILL die. (As for me, I’m still hoping for some kind of miraculous medical science breakthrough in aging – think Niven’s autodoc, or Prolong – that means we’ll be fit enough to endure the hardship of Mars Colony 1: I’m so outta here “in the event” lol. At near-70, I still wanna be an asteroid miner. I, too, imprinted on YA Heinlein lol)

        • You suffer fools far less. Foolishness though? That can be quite entertaining.

        And not least of all, it’s true – and not merely a truism – that…

        • Life is richer past a certain age-related epiphany. You’ll know what I mean when it happens.

        Damn. This one must have hit me in the right spot this morning LOL. Sorry.

      2. My grandma is 97. Recently when asked how she is, her reply was “I’m still doing not mildewing!”

  16. The Foundation for Liberty and American Greatness (FLAG) is a charity that promotes civics education in schools, and has a set of student guides available to the public. I was able to glance at them a few years ago, and they seemed to be straightforward with no poison pills. They have guides for the Declaration, Constitution, Federalist Papers, Electoral College, and even a Donald Trump Coloring Book. Aimed at K-12 education, but I don’t know the exact details as to age for each.

    FLAG provides speakers to schools for free that meet “Constitution Day” requirements, and their programs emphasize the more traditional “American Dream” ideas. Some of their programs invite students to meet and question successful legal immigrants and/or entrepreneurs, with an emphasis on the “Dream”. If you want more information, you can go to

    I’m not affiliated with them in any way, other than I saw one of their presentations, and was favorably impressed. It’s interesting that it was founded by an Australian named Nick Adams, who is a massive booster of the USA with a unique story of his own.

  17. Check homeschool curriculums, such as Classical Conversations. I no longer own what we used, but there was a lot of what you’re looking for in such things.

    And there are still illustrated editions of Paul Revere’s Ride around. Our kid had one.

    1. I no longer own the three we used (Younger son “ate” me of out of corriculums and did three years in one in the year I homeschooled. Part of the reason I let him go back to school (the other being he wanted to be in engineering club.)
      Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if we’d continued.
      Weirdly (?) one thing it did was make us very close, something that continues to this day.

      1. David Friedman has suggested that this is something one might expect from homeschooling.

        This suggests an important point about home schooling–it is, among other things, a way of making it more likely that your children’s parents, siblings, and a few friends will function as the effective peer group. Seen from one standpoint, that means parents trying to control their children, mold them in their own image. Seen from the other side, the choice is between the parents’ values and the values of a random collection of kids–and most parents know which they prefer.

        Home Schooling: Family as Peer Group

  18. For kids with the stomach for a terrifying dystopia, but linked to an awesome and old-fashioned sense of the American character, with an unexpected twist ushering in the happy ending: The original newspaper comic strip of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, first year (1929). This story of the conquest of America by a ruthless nation from the Far East (insert your own astonished punchline here), a resilient and determined resistance, the winning of an ally in Chile (insert another astonished punchline), and so on and on to the happy ending referenced above … is available FREE online, here:
    And afterwards, there’s lots of fun battling the Tiger Men from Mars.
    If you can find one of the now-rare, out-of-print hardcover collections (the way I thrilled to it in the elementary-school library), it’s easier to enjoy, but I checked: Those are now WAY expensive. Still, that nice Roland Anderson has done a great thing for everyone who loves Stories for Boys, and wants an old-fashioned future adventure that DOESN’T include a wise, enlightened One World Government.

    1. “Armageddon: 2419” and “The Air Lords of Han,” by Philip Francis Nowlan are on Gutenberg. I gather they are the basis of the comics. Fun in their own right.

  19. My books came secondhand (thirdhand, fourthhand, umpteenthhand…) from the fleamarket. I used to have a few of a series of hardbacks “The Story of Davy Crockett,” “The Story of Crazy Horse,” “The Story of General Custer,” “The Story of Daniel Boone.” Apparently there were a whole lot more in the series.
    I’ve found they were juvenile classics dating from about the mid-fifties in the “Signature Books” series published by Grosset & Dunlap, written by various authors.
    Also, for shorter versions of stories about historical figures, check out old children’s encyclopedias. I have a set of “The Bookshelf for Boys and Girls” published in 1969, volume 9 of which is short stories of Great Events and Famous People.

      1. When my mother realized that she would have to homeschool me and my brother, she bought any books that seemed “educational” and could be had for a nickel or a dollar for an entire box, mostly published between the 40s and 60s.
        My brother ignored them but I read whatever I could get my hands on – so I ended up with a perception of America at least 40 years out of date. Which was an advantage until I decided to go to college for a fine arts degree, and my advisor quickly discovered that I was an abhorrently dyed-in-the-wool conservative-minded patriot who kept accidentally insulting his cherished government-subsidized arts career.

    1. I was never much interested in history, but when I was a sprout in Jr High and High School I did actually READ the schools textbooks, and (disturbing thought) this put me ahead of my classmates who only absorbed the teachers’ impressions of what the textbooks said.

      I’ve also had a conjecture for a while now that science fiction fans often skew strangely conservative because “the golden age of science fiction is 13,” and that leads to young fans reading lots of works originally written ~40 years ago. Conservative because 40 years ago, and strangely because science fiction.

      1. Also it’s kind of hard to explore new frontiers and make innovations and discoveries once the government cordons all of it off with red tape.

  20. For teenagers, I would expect Franklin’s Autobiography to be surprisingly good. Franklin was nuts.

    Also, Grant’s autobiography. He was not *at all* a fan of bull fighting.

    I also recall running in McGuffey’s Eclectic Reader, though I haven’t gone through all of those yet.

    Kipling’s books and poems are good too. My dad would read them to us as bed time stories. Yes, even the one about the Yukon prospector who was trying to get the frozen corpse of his partner down somewhere warm to be burned.

    1. “The Cremation of Sam McGee” is actually by Robert W. Service, who left plenty more where that came from. (Which is, obviously!) Great stuff, but some of it too dark for younglings.

      1. Oh, I don’t know. This was one of the poems that my 6th grade teacher, Mr. Tom Terranova of Sainted Memory set us to memorize and recite. (He was big on having the class memorize… stuff. A stanza a day, and we’d recite it in chorus the next morning. I think now that he was strongly influenced by Montessori and sneaked those principles into a public school)
        IIRC, the male kids in the class really loved the gruesome content.

        1. Another Robert W Service poem was the ackowledged basis for a Tex Avery Droopy Dog cartoon:

          Apparently only available on youtube in limited excerpt.

      1. With Franklin’s or the Eclectic Readers?

        Thinking about it, the Franklin Autobiography might actually make a good basis for an animated series, if someone could figure out how to do them simply. He had a keen eye for the absurd, and absolutely loved pointing them out, like the whole bit with the poofy bread, or the girls where turned out were trying to rook him into being a patsy for them stealing the silver spoons.

      2. Maybe I’m just coming from an odd angle, but why would archaic language be a problem?

        Also a couple hundred years ago isn’t even close to “archaic”.

        1. Huh. Something occurs to me: If someone can’t handle the trivial language differences between English!1980 and English!1800 they won’t last five minutes on the intertubez.

          The combination of extreme value of the written word, with the need for new descriptive words on an almost daily basis, plus the general playfulness of the culture, means that language formation and mutation has been kicked into overdrive. If you can’t take part in the Great Sifting of finding which new words and phrases make the language better and then adopting them, you simply are not fit for civilization in this era.

          1. I don’t remember the story/poem. But I remember, council scouting event no less, the reading: Good clean patriotic adventure story told in poem form. Youth enjoyed it. But they were also puzzled regarding the adult scouter reactions … as in “that wasn’t that hilarious and why the delayed reaction?” Which naturally set off the adults, again. Explanations were not forthcoming.

          2. I thought I wasn’t fit for this era because I am a Calvinist, and believe in honour, and would much rather have the ability to beat the ever loving shit out of people when they annoy me. Oh, and cattle reaving. And swords.

            1. Wait, what? If Calvinism entails pre-determination then how can it incorporate honour? Whether you stand or run is already decided, so there’s no honour to be had in following your destiny, is there?

              1. As I like from time to time to quip: “I know I have free will. I’m predestined to believe this is so!”

        2. Ian, because a child who’s never been exposed to it finds it as incomprehensible as Latin or French.

          Yes, it’s deliberate, it’s pernicious, it’s evil, and my then twelve year old scared a retired high school English teacher by reading Ivanhoe and declaring it ‘easy’, because she barely struggled through.

          Most people don’t read King James Bible or Shakespeare or the Constitution because they can’t. It might as well be Greek. Hiding all the past by making it unreadable . . . it’s enough to make us believers in conspiracies. And (see above retired high school teacher) I am quite convinced that by the time the Baby Boom hit school this was well under way, though my Silent parents entirely missed it. She’s five years younger than my mom. Education being local then, some Boomers got some old style, but others did not.

          1. Huh. I’ve been reading the King James Bible all my life. It’s part of the Latter-day Saints standard works and we study it two years out of every four.

      3. Maybe do excerpts of Franklin’s trip to Britian. He basically got conned on the trip there by a puffery prone politician, but through a combination of good fortune and genuinely being an honest person ended up getting there in good order.

        I also recall, he accidentally exposes some idiot scam some other higher eschelon guy is trying to run on someone else by taking the guy at his initial word, and delivering the mail that wasn’t supposed to make its listed recipient. Real lesson in why double dealing with people tends to blow up in one’s face. Also gets him apprenticed to one of the master printers of England at the time.

        He also stands down the print workers who want him to chip into their beer pool. He doesn’t drink beer, because it costs to much, and he would rather spend his time and money reading more books.

  21. I remember reading about Washington and the cherry tree. It was in an old collection of short write-ups of events that the editor likely thought would be morally inspiring (such as Sir Walter Raleigh assisting Queen Elizabeth with a mud puddle). I already knew that the cherry tree story was false at the time, though. Other stories involving US presidents were about Washington not becoming a sailor because he wouldn’t leave his mother, and a young Lincoln feeling guilty about shooting a wild turkey.

    Johnny Tremaine and the Wilder books have already been mentioned. World War 2 books used to not be hard to find. For instance, ’30 Seconds Over Tokyo’ is about the Doolittle Raid (focusing on the crew of the B-25 bomber “The Ruptured Duck”). I’m not sure how well that fits what you’re looking for, though, since the focus isn’t really the US.

    A better fit might be one of the books about Harriet Tubman. I don’t remember any titles off the top of my head, but there used to be a bunch that were kid-friendly.

  22. Holling C. Holling’s _Tree in the Trail_ is about the Santa Fe trail . . . and a lot more.

    I also love Holling’s _Seabird_, about whaling, sailing, and how the main character rises from deck boy to captain and beyond, but it’s not purely US centered.

  23. Though it’s been nigh on 25-30 years since I read them in school, I seem to recall Johnny Tremaine and Across 5 Aprils (or was it April Morning? I don’t remember, but it was another “young man joins the revolutionary cause” one) being pretty good. I don’t *remember* a poison pill in them, at any rate. (Or if there was, I ignored it.)

    I dunno about books, it’s one of those that, while I love the history of the era, I never went looking for novels other than the ones from school. But the docu-drama the Crossing (with Jeff Daniels as Washington) was awfully good, and I’ve seen it within the last 10 years or so–and again, there wasn’t a poison pill that stuck out to me. It was just a good and interesting docudrama about the Americans taking the Hussar mercenaries entirely by surprise on that Christmas day ambush. 😀

    1. Across Five Aprils is the Civil War. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much of it because it was during my “spite reading” phase.

      I went to a small Baptist school for eighth grade, where we had to do a book report every month. My first two months I picked books she’d never heard of (I know “The Book of Three” by Lloyd Alexander was one) and ruled that I was not allowed to do a book report on any book not on the recommended reading list until I had read all the ones on there.

      I got to do my report on “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” for my last book report.

  24. A Patriot’s History of the United States was written specifically to counter Howard Zinn. It’s more or less a high-school textbook, though.

    Also, Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana (published 1835, see Gutenberg or other archives). He was a Harvard student who had some sort of breakdown, dropped out of school, and signed on as an able-bodied seaman (i. e. grunt labor) on a trip from Boston around the Horn to California and back. Very matter-of-fact descriptions of the life of a seaman and the rigors of travel by sail. Also gives an amazing glimpse of Mexican California circa 1832, just a few years before it became American California. His uncomplimentary descriptions of the places we now know as Los Angeles and San Francisco are hilarious in retrospect. (It’s also an object lesson in the advantages and disadvantages of straying off the beaten path. Dana Point, north of San Diego, is named for him. Who now remembers the names of any of his Harvard classmates?) Slightly archaic language, probably best for teens.

    1. I remember reading Dana’s book in a Classics Illustrated comic – where I also read of Kit Carson and may another American “hero.” Reviewing their “library” might turn up a useful list of characters/tales once found appealing to a mass market.
      While I don’t remember all I’ve read of those I do remember their version of “The Last of the Mohicans was far livelier that Mr. Cooper’s original.

  25. I don’t have any suggestions for younger ages reading as it has been a very long time since I have read anything or paid much attention to stuff for children at those ages. It is very much sorely needed however, as the left apparently is now going after Thanksgiving as a holiday as a “celebration of colonial oppression”:

    THIS is why Democrats are so anxious to impose lockdowns for Thanksgiving (and Hannukah and Christmas ). They hate anything that celebrates America or G-d and indeed any or celebration that is not a celebration of their noxious Marxist ideology and their glorious all powerful state. They are using the CCP Virus as a pretext to do what they have wanted to do for many decades.

    We need as many books. movies, shows, etc., as possible to fight back against the effort to brainwash people into being part of Oceania’s obedient comrades.

  26. D. H. Lawrence’s book on American classic literature is supposedly the source of the quote about the essential American soul being stoic, isolate, and a killer. I keep meaning to read that book, as well as the stories it references, and a) find the quote b) figure out if I agree or disagree with his arguments.

  27. I don’t have time right now to go through all the comments, so please excuse any repeats.
    Johnny Tremain has been mentioned and is great.
    I don’t really remember the Little House books but my wife loves them and rereads them, I need to do the same.
    Louis L’amour for the older more literate kids really pushes American exceptionalism and can do attitude.
    Jim Kjelgaard for any outdoor loving boys. Nothing really specific to American history, but the love of outdoors, dogs and animals, and self-suffiency all wrapped up in a story kids who love and dream of the outdoors will devour.

    I’ll have to check back later for recommendations on the younger class. Have been trying to help a 10 year old who is far behind on his reading level learn to read. His mother thinks reading is stupid and unnecessary so it is a bit of an uphill battle.

      1. Short answer, she’s a stupid [redacted]. Longer answer, she doesn’t read other than facebook memes and spends her time on the couch watching reality shows and whoring around. Anything she doesn’t do is de facto stupid and unnecessary.

        The kicker, she works at the school, even though she can barely read and struggles with basic math.

        The wife and I are trying to counteract her and give him a decent start in life.

    1. Ah, yes, I hadn’t thought of that, but definitely a vote for the Little House on the Prairie books (at least the original…six?), especially now that the left is doing their damndest to cancel them. And yes, definitely Louis L’amour. Possibly Zane Grey might be recommended, but he hated Mormons with such an unholy passion that I (a Mormon) avoid his stuff. (And it’s highly likely his hatred means his portrayal thereof is not entirely accurate, either. I mean, I want to throw stuff at Conan Doyle for the lunacy he had in A Study in Scarlet, but given that I doubt the man had ever even MET a Mormon at the time and was in England, he gets a tiny bit more of a pass. 😀 )

      But definitely Louis L’amour.

      1. Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher might appeal to people who like the Little House books. Not on the frontier, but on a farm.

    2. Second Jim Kjelgaard and add the modern Jack London: Gary Paulsen. For Mrs. Hour’s purpose that means Tucket’s Travels series.

      Much of Kjelgaard is OP/OSI (though if you are looking for pressies for a dogs loving or I-would-smuggle-a-stray-dog-past-my-mum-into -my-be-PLEASE-can-we-have-dog kid, those books ate prime.*)

      But if you can get copies, his historical fiction: Buckskin Brigade, Rebel Patrol (Re. War) stories are excellent.

      *I would’ve got into Starship K9 Corps, no sweat.

      1. I recognize both of those names but haven’t read them since I was a young kid. I have a few of his I have been picking up when I see them at secondhand stores in hopes of passing them on (although I have currently been rereading them myself). When I was a kid we couldn’t afford all the books I wanted to read and I got them all from the library. David Drake wrote/coauthored a book with him, long after Kjelgaard’s death. Apparently both Drake and Jim Baen were Kjelgaard fans and grew up reading him, so they came up with the idea of Drake adding to the story of Kjelgaard’s book FireHunter and published The Hunter Returns (I asked Drake personally how that book came about, wondering if he was possibly related to Kjelgaard and to the best of my memory that is exactly what he told me)That one I would probably save for a teenager, nothing objectionable in it, but a bit more mature/bloody than the others.

        Fun fact, Jim Kjelgaard’s niece moved out here and became the local postmistress a few years back.

  28. OK start with Patriot’s History of the US and get some pictures going. I also like Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguarite Henry. And a bunch of her horse stuff because it wasn’t just about horses it was about the history of the country the horses were in. JMHAH was approximately revolutionary era. Brighty of the Grand Canyon was the expansion west, and so on. Also Laura Ingalls Wilders stuff. I think I want to do this. Stupid Masters degree. Ditto Christianity for kids is overdue but I don’t have sources.

  29. American Heritage Junior Library. 25 volumes. I read it compulsively when I was young. Really hard to find but worth keeping an eye out for. Any of the American Heritage title from before 1970 are worth a look.

  30. Johnny Tremaine, Calico Caprive from the colonial era. I think both were Newbery Award winners and any Newbery award before the early 1970s is probably worthwhile

  31. And for High School. History of the English Speaking Peoples (4 volumes) by WS Churchill. When it comes down to it, it’s always the old firm of UK, US, Canada, and Australia. This book answers why. Easy to find in numerous editions.

    1. My kids love Churchill. But that set was over $100.

      And the entire term of History was finished in a week. When I spend that much on a single subject you boys could at least pretend it required effort!

      1. I think you can do better than that. ABE books has reprints from about $20 the set. I actually bought mine at the McGill University Montreal book sale. they used to sell the old books that furniture stores used. Long, long time ago that was.

  32. I recently found a “A Treasury of American Folklore” edited by B.A. Botkin, Crown Publisher, New York, 1944.

    It was at an antiques store, but I suppose there must be other copies floating around somewhere.

    It has a bunch of what you’re looking for and a whole lot more.

  33. Also, not specific to the US, but since the Left lies about everyone’s history, and not merely ours, there’s a small publishing house that does history and Christian literature. They’ve got some children’s novels as well. I haven’t read many, but the ones I have are well written, no poison pills.

  34. For stories not Revolutionary War era, highlighting Americanism.

    Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink is good. (Caddie’s dad turns down a peerage and explains why he’d rather be American than a Lord.)
    Ralph Moody wrote a series similar to the Little House books about growing up.
    Mark Twain’s novels.

    1. Ralph Moody’s books are the Little Britches series, starting with Little Britches, or Father and I were Ranchers. The first one had me in stitches. The others are still waiting on purchase.

  35. If I may: I’ll second or third the reccommends for Jim Kjelgaard, specifically his contributions to the We Were There series, which I and my older brother both were avid fans of.

    Although it might be too inaccessible these days (it’s about a couple of kids given a positively shocking degree of personal freedom to roam about in the woods and fend for themselves), another author/book I haven’t seen mentioned is Ernest Thompson Seton’s Two Little Savages, another old favorite.

    I wonder also if Indian-centric tales would fit the bill, such as the historical Eunice Williams or perhaps Quanah Parker.

  36. In addition to “A Patriot’s History”, I would add another ponderous tome that was suggested as an alternative to Howard Zinn’s work: “A History of the American People”, written by a Brit (Paul Johnson) possibly as a reaction to Zinn, but I’m not sure. I haven’t yet read it personally, but my wife has read it (or at least most of it), and she appreciated it.

    This is a little on the light side, but I have always loved to read “John, Paul, George and Ben” by Lane Smith. It pokes gentle fun at the Founders, puts their talents into perspective (and puts the Revolution in good light), and it corrects both its own misconceptions (eg Paul Revere had a silver shop, not a regular shop, and George Washington didn’t really chop down a cherry tree — although its jokes on Washingon were based on this story) and keeps the Founders in a good light. It even includes Tom, and independent lad (albeit as a footnote for the title).

    I always try to find the book to read with my children for Independence Day!

  37. Might not help your compilation but for your Christmas list; I think every 21st century boy (& most girls) should have a copy of Daniel Beard’s The American Boys Handy Book, available at Amazon and elsewhere.

    Lina and Adelia Beard’s The American Girls Handy Book may be of interest as well.

    1. Maybe I was a wierd kid, but I had (still do as a matter of fact and reread it just a couple years ago) Beard’s Shelters, Shacks and Shanties and about wore it out reading it as a kid. Not really a history per se but a how to book on building a ton of different types of shelters, written in an era when it was assumed boys would be out playing in the woods and want to build such things and camp out in them. It does put little blurbs of history in about where different types originated and why.

  38. From the Third Grade Abeka curriculum for reading “Pilgrim Boy”. I loved it so much I bought old copy from the school. I split the 3-4th grade with the other teacher, but I think we used Abeka, I found it to be very accurate. Here is a link, but truthfully, look on ebay for used-most homeschoolers resell their books and they will be in good shape!

  39. I can endorse the McGuffey readers, Ben & Me (and the author, Robert Lawson, did at least one similar book from the perspective of Paul Revere’s horse, whose title escapes recall) and – without picking a specific item as I’ve only just started reading him – Winston Groom (of Forest Gump) was apparently more historian than novelist with a particular inclination toward histories for children, reputedly quite good and not at all progressive.

    When we homeschooled the Daughtorial Unit we discovered Joy Hakim’s 10-volume A History of US was well-balanced for the first eight volumes — when she gets toward present times she gets a bit iffy. The books are well-written and designed t teach reading as well as History.

    For depicting the pioneers who first came here from Europe I have found Louis L’Amour’s first couple of Sackett romances quite enjoyable — Sackett’s Land, To the Far Blue Mountains, ad The Warrior’s Path. For it’s depiction of early 19th Century America I recommend Ride the River, which is particularly likely to entertain female readers.

    In fact, I recommend looking for vintage novels set in periods of interest as a way of escaping contemporary shadings. Such books often provide a remarkably good sense of the era in which they’re set and remain readable long after their initial publication. I just can’t think of anything right now. Sterling North’s Rascal, although memoir rather than novel, draws a very vivid picture of life on the Home Front during WWI, set in small town Wisconsin in a time when helicopter parenting had yet to be invented. I suppose Mt. Twain’s books, even the banned one, are good for this purpose.

    1. Was just describing Rascal to my wife the other day when discussing what we were reading around 10 years old. Great book. Probably too big/advanced for most 10 year olds these days, but if they are a couple years older or reading above their level this is a great book for kids.

      1. When I reread it as adult (Beloved Spouse & I were wont to read aloud on car trips) we noticed a) how competent the young Sterling North was and b) how very likely it would be that Child Protective Services would have stormed the North Home.

        Look, the kid had the ability to plan, on his own, a fenced enclosure for his pets that included sinking the fencing into the ground to prevent Rascal digging his way out. I doubt the ability of many kids that age (or half-again that age) to do as much these days absent adult supervision.

    1. I’d say for the most part, Louis L’amour is probably pretty friendly from about 9-10 upwards (and the only reason I don’t say younger is just because it would probably bore younger kids). He doesn’t have sex in his novels (or if there is, it’s very, VERY off-screen) and the violence isn’t graphic. He also doesn’t use much in the way of explicit bad language. Frankly, he’s more kid-friendly than a huge chunk of the “kid” writers currently out there. About the only thing I’d recommend against is reading the very last book he published–because it was part one of two, and he died before writing part two, so part one ends on a horrible cliffhanger.

      1. Yes, the worst language in his books is “damn” after that it will simply say, “he cursed”.

        And he tends to put quite a bit of history in his books and frequently has his characters give short monologues on American Exceptionalism. Without becoming preachy.

        1. I also gather, from anecdotes I’ve heard, that his research into an individual place/time was *meticulous.* As in, someone once commented that L’amour had set a story in a town his (the speaker’s) family had been in for a few generations, and his own great-grandfather had a brief appearance in the story because he had in fact been the local store owner during that time. (I don’t know how true it is, but given everything else I’ve read/heard about Mr. L’amour’s love of authenticity and digging up local history, I’d believe it.)

          Also, the screeching sexists-claiming-to-be-feminists would be shocked–SHOCKED I tell you–at many of his female characters. They’d hate them, of course, because they are tough and competent, but…heh.

  40. This was a high school book, but is a collection of the actual writings of Americans: The American Tradition in Literature (Volume 1) Paperback – June 9, 1985
    by G. & BRADLEY PERKINS (Author)
    I would try to find the older edition, I liked it better, but lost it.

  41. Here’s the ones I think fit more what you’re wanting:

    Paul Revere’s Ride – Poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is pretty much a must

    If I recall correctly the Time Machine choose your Own Adventure books had a good one on battles of Lexington and Concord where your goal is to find the person who fired the first shot in the Revolutionary War. I think it was called American Revolutionary.

    While not explicitly about an individual person in our history, Red Badge of Courage is a good account of a young man going into battle in the Civil War.

    I can’t remember who, maybe the military times, did a comic book series on Medal of Honor winners that was good and freaking bad ass.

    These may be appropriate at High School level, though not really sure how they would fit what you want (first three may be good comic books):

    The Killer Angels by Michael Sharra was a great telling of Gettysburg from the perspective of all generals involved.

    With the Old Breed is very good.a visceral look at the Battles of Peleliu and Okinawa for the USMC.

    “The Last Stand of Fox Company: A True Story of U.S. Marines in Combat,” Robert Drury and Tom Clavin. is similar with battle of the Chosin in Korea.

    Supreme Command by Eliot Cohen had an interesting write up where he goes over leaders during war, specifically I remember Lincoln, Clemeanceau and Churchhill and how they lead through their various wars and challenged the military leaders serving under them.

    The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes does a GREAT job slamming Hoover and FDR for basically making the great depression great while highlighting the achievements Coolidge in doing nothing. I’ve not read her book Coolidge yet.

    1. Coolidge is quite good, and I don’t normally care for biographies. MomRed just finished _The Great Society_ and says it’s excellent, if depressing (in the sense of “They just won’t learn, will they?” deja vu all over again.)

    2. Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors for the battle of Samar. A destroyer and two destroyer escorts against battleships.

  42. E. D. Hirsch wrote Cultural Literacy decrying the lack of same (basically, your post expanded to book length). His organization then produced a series of “Cultural Literacy Readers” books, one for each grade. These are not original works, but carefully edited compilations of good stuff from our culture. The earliest grades are meant to be read aloud. They did a good job of matching stories and lessons to age levels. They were produced about two decades ago, but they were produced by a conservative organization (Heritage Foundation?) and they are not anti-American.

    I’m also remembering a series of hardbacks from roughly 1960 called “Landmark” books, IIRC. These were aimed at middle-schoolers, more or less. They were mostly snippets of history that the editors considered important. The only one I specifically remember was John F. Kennedy and PT-109, which was mostly straightforward, if a bit hagiographic. It was clearly written before JFK became president. (I would have liked to know more about Joe Kennedy Jr. flight-testing the primitive drone that exploded prematurely and killed him, but there’s not much of a story there, just BOOM!).

    Someone with the skills (not me!) should do a kid’s version of the story of Taffy Three. It’s too dark for young children — a lot of people die, including some of the heroes — but boys third grade and up would love it.

    1. Joe Kennedy Jr. wasn’t flight testing, IIRC, but starting the “drone” on its way. They were basically using worn-out bombers as primitive drones by taking off in a bomb-laden plane, setting the autopilot, and then bailing out. He had the bad luck to have his bomber go BOOM before he could bail.

  43. Ah. Grace Stratton Porter’s stuff is good. I have very fond memories of my Mom reading Freckles and Girl of the Limberlost to us. 😀

    I haven’t ever read it myself, but I’m told by those who have that The Green Grass of Wyoming is a good one. (Though I chuckle over the title, and question–a bit–if the author ever spent much time in Wyoming…)

    1. That’s Gene Stratton-Porter, not to be confused with Grace Livingston Hill. My mother liked them both, but I preferred Porter. As a youth, I wasn’t the least bit interested in GLH or her Christian romance.

    2. Whoops, yep, fatfingered it. Gene. Argh. It’s a Monday.

      My mom liked both as well, but in her own words “Livingston Hill gets really repetitive and sometimes preachy.”

      I never had much desire to read Christian romances–a brief foray into the “roman era” ones and also LDS-specific ones really turned me off to it, heh.

      But Stratton-Porter is awesome, and her love for the land she writes about shines out of every word. (And even as she wrote about the Limberlost, she never demonized the timber-men felling it. It was simply part of the reality of it. Actually, I think that sense of possibly-inevitable loss is what made those books so very vivid and memorable. I’ve never been anywhere near where she writes, but that place feels very real to me.)

      1. Even as a boy I really liked those books. Haven’t thought of them in years until you mentioned them.

        1. My mom would read them to us. Those two, and the Lord of the Rings (though I don’t think we ever actually got all the way through the third book, heh)

    3. Ooh, I loved Freckles and Girl of the Limberlist when I was young! Hmm… I think I bought copies a few years back…where would they be…

  44. I don’t know about good old George Washington cutting down a cherry tree and then owning up to it; although I’ve heard that story from when I was barely old enough to remember. And also the legend about him skipping a silver dollar across the Potomac River. But those kind of blend together when I recall a story about the problems government workers had with beavers on the Potomac River chewing down the cherry trees that had been planted there and along the Tidal Basin. Being government, they couldn’t trap or shoot the damn critters, much less throw them across the river to the Virginia side. Seems they eventually had to put metal mesh fencing around each tree to keep the sharp-toothed buggers from chewing them down each night.

  45. For older readers (and it surely ought be accessible to any Jr. High level readers, heartily endorsed is Wilfred McClay’s Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story,.

    Land of Hope: A Persuasive and Inspiring History of America
    August 8, 2019 10:29 AM
    Professors and teachers across America should cancel their fall book orders and replace their current textbooks with Wilfred McClay’s Land of Hope. McClay, the G. T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty at the University of Oklahoma, satisfies the promise made in the title of his latest work. In it, he invites everyone to learn how ideals drove America’s creation and success.

    In 24 short chapters, McClay draws readers into the story of America while doing something refreshing and democratic: Rather than condescend to his readers, he assumes that Americans who can read plain English can also understand complex ideas when they are competently explained. He corrects or leaves out many old, politically motivated lies that have calcified and become clichés in our national story. Instead of writing his own politically motivated “corrective,” he simply tells the truth in context.

    McClay gets the biggest questions right. The first half of the book tells the unsettling truths about what happened to the people of America once they governed themselves. They fought a revolution to preserve an existing culture of self-government and further distinguished themselves by proclaiming their shared ideals. They governed themselves under a Constitution designed to put those ideals into action. When tested by slavery, expansion, immigration, and the challenges of democracy, Americans made the constitutional order work. When their brethren rebelled in order to create a government on a different basis, Americans preserved the system of ordered liberty as understood by the Founders. It is quite a story indeed.

    The second half of the book outlines how American political culture withstood the challenges of modernity and the various forms of totalitarianism that grew in response to it. McClay properly explains American exceptionalism as neither isolationism nor imperialism, but rather as an understanding that the most important aspect of American foreign policy is proclaiming rights and demonstrating self-government. More striking, though, is what is missing from McClay’s account — most of the glaring errors and old lies one would find in competing American history books.

    1. I’ll second the Older Readers. You need to have a basic chronology of US history in your head (or on hand) before you start the book. I’d call it an AP/ 100 level college textbook, well worth reading.

  46. The =Spies of the Revolution= book I remember must be long out of print, but A’zon lists several on the topic. Which are suitable for whom I do not know.

    For 10th grade and up, =A Country Made By War= might do. For those fed plant fertilizer instead of Civil War fact, =Grant, A Victor, Not a Butcher= comes to mind.

    And for heaven’s sake, make sure that all ages get to read =I, Pencil=!

    1. One other thing, for the older children, might be actual stories of totalitarian atrocities, with “Do you see this here? Who actually comes closest?” Histories, real histories, of “Popular Movements” and their outcomes might be good too.

      For the younger kiddies … my best suggestion is to show them how everything we take for granted, from our sewers and the roads above them to the letterforms that we read, are the product of long human effort -For Which We Should, In The Name Of Justice, Be Grateful-‘ . As Dennis Prager says, gratitude is a powerful immunization against many of the Left’s most pousonous lies.

      Henry Ford, John Deere, Thomas Edison, Lee DeForest, Philo Farnsworth, Vladimir Zworykin, … None of this was done by government. Most of it was done in the search for profit. And these things enriched us all.

      1. Henry Ford, John Deere, Thomas Edison, Lee DeForest, Philo Farnsworth, Vladimir Zworykin, … None of this was done by government. Most of it was done in the search for profit. And these things enriched us all.

        “Naked greed has done more to make the world a better place than all charity combined”

        No it isn’t 100% true, but it is close enough that it makes a good tool to knock people’s assumptions around. Then you can get down into the nitty gritty.

          1. The people who wax puppy-eyed over altruism aren’t counting the everyday individual relationships, not least because it takes work to see those. So fair’s fair to not count them in the other direction.

            1. Then attack the lie, don’t add a new one.

              Charity is caritas, Christ-like love– that which will willingly sacrifice yourself for the true, greatest good of another.

              Hijacking it for “shut up and do the work I say is nice” is wrong, and elevating good deeds where you do not care over those where you do care, even if that care is “this is the Right Thing to Do,” is perverse.

                1. That is not what they tend to stick the label “charity” on when they pressure you to do something they want.
                  It is the emotional argument that they use when you do not agree to engage in their “charity.”

                  Misuse does not rule out proper use; if you want to try the other way, then absolutely everything up to and including “hi” means “shut up and do what the script in my head says,” when you’re dealing with the obnoxious bullies.

                  You stated the goal of shaking up people’s thinking. Mine does that, and doesn’t involve getting them angry by lying.

                  1. *sigh*

                    I’m talking about the latent idea that anything done for profit is inherently suspect, and “isn’t helping people”. Call the opposite of for-profit a therglob if that makes it easier.

                    “Naked greed has done more to make the world a better place than all therglobs combined”

                    1. I’m talking about the latent idea that anything done for profit is inherently suspect, and “isn’t helping people”. Call the opposite of for-profit a therglob if that makes it easier.
                      “Naked greed has done more to make the world a better place than all therglobs combined.

                      It’s still a lie, and now you’ve conflated the idea of “profit” with “naked greed.”

                      Greed does not mean you want to improve things for yourself and those you love– AKA, “profit.”

                      Conflating the two is just as wrong as conflating “charity” with “giving someone stuff.”

                    2. I figured out where the misunderstanding was before seeing this response, but it confirms it.

                      I’m making an economic argument, not a moral or religious one.

                    3. Foxfier is right. Doing honest work for money is not ‘naked greed’. Greed is taking MORE than you have earned, and has led to a great deal of evil in this world. Finding ways to do more work for less effort is NOT greed, it is the basis of most technical and industrial progress.

                    4. While that would be an argument from social justice (Catholic philosophy version, not hijacked version) grounds, but even if it is true (and I believe it is), that does not mean that greed has done more good than charity has.

                      That’s before things like some of the earliest examples of charity are designed to both help the target, and make things better for the giver. (field gleaning, old testament)

            2. The people who have abused the words so badly are exactly the people who need to be informed about the philosophical foundations of the culture that they assume is the baseline for humanity.

              You want to get people to think? Talking to them works better than insulting them. more than enough will be insulted from the suggestion that they’ve been infected with that icky religious stuff!

        1. I certainly don’t think this would be suitable for early readers, but perhaps middle-school aged: Michener’s “The Bridge at Andau”. I read it – sometime in middle school and was absolutely chilled. That, and having friends whose families had fled communism in all it’s seductive guises turned me against the collective concept forever and all.

          1. That’s one I want to use in class, but can’t because of the prison guard chapter. I have some students who are very, very, very sheltered. Very sheltered.

        2. Better then “greed” perhaps is Adam Smith’s “enlightened self interest.”

          I.e. This will make me prosperous (if it works and I manage it well), and other people will also feel that they benefit, so they will pay me for my gizmo/idea/effort.

          1. Runs into the Christian problem.

            Ignoring all questions of history, etc– the Christian morality works, raising both the individual and the culture.

            You sacrifice short-term gain for future improvement– you don’t kill your neighbor, who just had a good harvest, and loot his farm
            You work hard, interact with him to see what you can learn and apply, trade what you have for what he has, if either of you have catastrophic failure then you help the other. (Rather than raiding them to take what you need.)

            But it’s slow, and the results aren’t always obvious, and sometimes Someone Else cheats and at least in the short run gets ahead by it.

            The counter-example of “places where it is NOT the norm” can be hard to absorb.

    1. For American fairy tales there are The Jack Tales and Grandfather Tales: American-English Folk Tales by Richard Chase,

  47. Callista Gingrich (Newt’s wife) has a series for kids; I have not read but would note that Newt decries the desecrations of our history often enough.

    Description of the first on the page:

    In the New York Times bestseller, Sweet Land of Liberty, Ellis the Elephant sets off on a quest to find out how America became a free and exceptional nation. Now Ellis is back and ready to learn about the birth of our great nation in Land of the Pilgrims’ Pride. Written and illustrated by Callista Gingrich and Susan Arciero, Ellis once again educates and entertains as he discovers America’s thirteen original colonies. Starting in Virginia, Ellis journeys through each of the colonies and learns about their unique characteristics. From Pocahantas to Benjamin Franklin, Ellis experiences life in Colonial America. Perfect for children ages 4-8, Land of the Pilgrims’ Pride will delight young and adult readers alike while exploring how America began.

  48. I have heard people praise the Rush Revere books. Classics Illustrated is also a good source of comic-books for history and timeless stories — Man Without a Country, Leatherstocking novels, Red Badge of Courage, Mutiny on the Bounty (that’s an American story), Captains Courageous, The Covered Wagon, Davy Crockett, the Conspiracy of Pontiac.World War II, the Roughriders.

  49. In the back of my brain I’m remembering a grade school primer from probably the early 1900s, called something like “Patriot Tales” that was full of little personal stories of, uh, storied and legendary Americans, but cannot find it. However I did trip over this:

    The referenced book is on archive dot org – “Manual of patriotism, for use in the public schools of the State of New York” (several copies, 501 pages… well, there’s a weighty read).

    And another I found there that seems very retro is called “Young America’s manual: the child’s guide to patriotism”

  50. The actual, Marx-busting true story of the first Thanksgiving:

    I’m eyeballing my library. Stephen Ambroses =Nothing Like It in the World= pops out, though the descriptions of a RR pioneers life and entertainment are for older readers only.

    If you can find a true and concise account, the story of how NYC drove the private subways into bankruptcy and swept up the ashes, cheating investors out of their property, might be useful.

  51. I agree that more of this sort of thing is needed. It’s probably because my oldest boys are in middle school, but I keep thinking that something that hits that age range — VERY different from middle school girls, which I can’t help with — and teaches these values would be incredibly useful in pre-hardening them against Zinnisms in high school. Something on the sarcasm/snark level of the Babylon Bee, maybe…

  52. When I was little, we had an old set of the World Book’s Childcraft. One of the volumes was full of short stories all about American values about pioneers and patriots; Daniel Boone, George Washington as a child, etc. All with some fun illustrations and written for children. Besides that set, I have an older set with even more short stories and shows how dumbed down they got in just ten years. And the one from the 80’s is even worse. (And “Pioneers and Patriots” was dumped.)

    You can find these sets on ebay, even that specific volume. Shipping is not cheap, as these books are HEAVY.

  53. Hmmm. I’m not certain whether any of the books listed below would exactly meet your requirements, Mrs. Hoyt, but they’re aimed at a young audience, emphasize individuality, display old-fashioned values, and don’t have any “poison pills” that I can recall:

    The Great Brain Series (“ages 8–12”)

    The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald (1967)
    More Adventures of the Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald (1969)
    Me and My Little Brain by John D. Fitzgerald (1971)
    The Great Brain at the Academy by John D. Fitzgerald (1972)
    The Great Brain Reforms by John D. Fitzgerald (1973)
    The Return of the Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald (1974)
    The Great Brain Does it Again by John D. Fitzgerald (1975)
    The Great Brain Is Back by John D. Fitzgerald (1995)

    Mr. Mysterious & Company by Sid Fleischman (1962)
    By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleischman (1963)
    Chancy and the Grand Rascal by Sid Fleischman, Eric Von Schmidt (illustrator) (1966)
    Jingo Django by Sid Fleischman, Eric Von Schmidt (illustrator) (1971)

    House of Stairs by William Sleator (1974)

  54. I’ll have more time for this later in the week.

    Western Civilization for Kids

    *Louisa May Alcott
    *Laura Ingalls Wilder
    The original Galdone folk tales (esp. Little Red Hen)
    Dr Gastolde’s Prayers from the Ark
    Kipling’s Just So Stories
    (some*)Maguerite Henry’s horse stories, in particular White Stallion of Lippiza.
    Anything by the D’Aulaires including their bio of George Washington

    *With reservations (I have not read them all)
    Nathan Hale’s hazardous Tales.
    (2010 or earlier) The Magic Tree house U.S. History adventures.

    Anyone have can EARLY edition of Jim Treleases Read Aloud Handbook? It’s a treasure trove.

  55. Sorry if it’s a repeat, but Sid Fleishman’s By the Great Horn Spoon, though a little more recent than lot of the other mentions, is also good. Young boy (I think from Boston?) heads west during the California gold-rush, and adventure ensues.

    1. I posted the title of that excellent novel myself earlier along with a small number of other titles, but WordPress seems to have eaten it. Perhaps it was the embedded links to Goodreads? I think in any case that Mrs. Hoyt is looking for short, older stories that can be rewritten for a modern audience of youngsters. 🙂

    2. Nope, that one’s not a repeat. I’ve got a text document open I’m updating with the suggestions. 🙂

  56. So it’s not quite historical, but I think a sly teaching of critical thinking skills via a vehicle similar to the old “Encyclopedia Brown'” stories could be effective. One of the biggest lacks I saw in education was not teaching a formal critical thinking process. Teaching kids on the sly to think more like a detective could have interesting implications as they continue their education. It could also open an avenue to discuss a bit of morality with the victim in each story and how the crime they are a victim of impacted their life.

    It would also have the bonus of not appearing overtly political or likely end up with ‘woke’ parents either refusing to flat out buy the book or spend days after the poor kid reads it with the parent ranting incoherently at them about all the ‘wrong’ information presented.

    I very much like the idea of what you’re thinking about doing, but I’m thinking something much more subversive may be required. Not quite as heavy-handed as some of Terry Goodkind’s work, but continue to bring all those precious values to life via the characters.

    I can see the appeal and need to bring some history back, but I’m wondering if, at least for marketing to woke parents with kids who will really need it, if modernizing the characters and setting to a more palatable version might result in more sales while still getting the messages you want told out there.

    I’ve been wanting to work on an ‘Adulting 101’ book for a few years that covers stuff like basic finances, budget planning, critical thinking, etc, but since anything I do is owned by the company, I haven’t been spending much time on it.

    1. Another book recommendation- The Westerns of Louis L’Amour, also anything by Taylor Caldwell.

      1. Yes! I’ve been re-reading them, his were the first ‘adult’ books I read because my Dad has almost every single one of his books. While I was re-reading them, I couldn’t help but realize how much they shaped my idea of what it was to be a ‘man’.

        1. I couldn’t help but realize how much they shaped my idea of what it was to be a ‘man’.

          This. I read them at a very impressionable age, it didn’t hurt that my grandfather was Irishman in a cowboy hat who used to be a boxer and could have very well been one of L’amour’s characters.

  57. When I was a kid in the fifties, we had several books in what (I just researched) was called the Landmark Book Series. Goodreads has an entry that says there were 96 of them. They were written to be accessible to young readers, they were historically focused, and their slant was consistently positive. I think they’d be worth a look.

  58. I read a bunch of biographies when I was 9-ish. The two that stand out were Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. Couldn’t tell you the titles, but Davy Crockett was mighty similar to the Disney take on his story…

  59. This may be a little out of — ahem — left field but how about the Mencken Chrestomathies?

  60. An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott
    Time Enough for Drums by Ann Rinaldi
    Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
    1776 by David McCullough
    The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
    Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Bunker Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
    Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry
    Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare
    Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright
    Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
    Guns for General Washington by Seymour Reit

  61. And if you have something that is Very Very Good, among the Bestest of All Mankind, you have a duty to appreciate it, to preserve if for your Posterity, and for anyone else wise enough to copy it.

    FWIW, the mini-rebellions against COVID lockdowns among citizens and law enforcement alike give me hope. It may be enough to give the Leftards in the judiciary a needed lesson as well.

  62. Sarah, may I suggest that for any story you re-write/re-tell or whatever, that you include at the end references to the original sources and/or related titles (e.g., any of the suggested books above, etc.) so that the parents/kids can look for them to read further? This would add value to your book for those who want to learn more about the person or event, and direct their search to books written from a similar perspective rather than modern de-bunkings.

  63. Sarah, I’m Australian (and I’ve never read them) but Amelia Hamilton and I follow each other on twitter and she is a lovely lady. I know she has done a series of books for younger readers and upon DDGing her as an author, I found the website: Have a look for age appropriateness and what have you, but to this Aussie’s eyes they look interesting.

    God bless you and your family and maintain the fight – you don’t think that this theft affects only Americans, right? The whole world is watching.

  64. I don’t know if these have been mentioned already, but for an honest historical treatment of the social and political climate leading up to the start of the revolutionary war I recommend Paul Revere’s Ride by David Hackett Fischer and for a more tactical and strategic treatment, The Minute Men: The First Fight by John Galvin.

  65. A thought occurs. Surely this sort of collection must already have been done in one form or another, say by one of the many conservative homeschooling organizations. Some research into that might be in order.

    1. It’s been done many different times and places.

      Most of them with similar but different points of view to what we have here, or aimed at older kids; mostly aimed at older kids. (Say, Hillsdale.)

      I haven’t found one that I like THAT much, but there’s a good chance someone here has.

  66. “Mommy?”
    “Yes, dear?”
    “What’s a Marxist?”
    “Oh, boy. Um, that’s someone who wants to take your stuff and give some of it to other people. Marxists keep a lot of that stuff for themselves.”
    “Why, Mommy?”
    “No one knows for sure. Marxists seem to have a mental problem with keeping their fingers off other people’s stuff.”
    “But isn’t that stealing?”
    “Yes, dear. It is. But they call it ‘social justice.'”
    “What’s ‘social justice’?”
    “It’s when Marxists think you have too much stuff, so they get mad at you and want to take it away.”
    “That’s dumb!”
    “Well, yes. You’re right, dear.”
    “Mommy, why don’t people stop the Marxists?”
    “That’s complicated. Some people are afraid the Marxists will hurt them. Other people don’t want to look mean. They want to be accepted and not have angry people yell at them in the street.”
    “Wow, Mommy. Marxists are scary! Are they going to hurt you or yell at you?” *tears*

  67. I can’t believe I didn’t think of it earlier–
    Hank the Cowdog!

    Maybe because it’s so very not preachy. It’s a funny series starring a none too bright, blow-hard stuffed shirt that happens to be a dog. He misunderstands stuff almost constantly, will contradict himself at the drop of a hat, basically spends the entire time doing the adjust-the-story-so-you-fit-the-role-you’ve-assigned-yourself thing, but doesn’t have a malicious bone in his body and it gives the child-reader a wonderful feeling of “oh! I understand this– this is how HE sees it! It’s not what is really there, though, I am smart enough to figure that out. Hm, and those guys who disagree with him, they’re not right, either– and Hank is wrong, here, but he does the right thing as best he can….”

    It’s hard to describe, because like I said it’s not preachy, or even all that formulaic. I would think it’s aimed at ranch kids, but my kids love the books, too.

    They’re the first series I ever read, and the first audio book I ever heard– although I couldn’t tell you if it was The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Studhorse or The Wounded Buzzard on Christmas Eve.

    It’s me again, Hank the Cowdog. (I can hear it in the author’s actual voice, OK? And it always makes me smile.)

    1. Example, from the Characters page:

      Wallace and Junior like a nicely ripened, dead — whatever — as much as the next buzzard. Therefore, this father and son team often show up when things aren’t going so well for Our Hero, Hank. As usual, Hank manages to keep a friendly attitude with the pair and even lend a helping paw when needed. In the following excerpt, Wallace dives head-first into the windshield of Slim’s pickup and gets more than his feathers ruffled.

      “Whilst Slim was cleaning up the glass and feathers, Junior spiraled down from the sky and landed in the pasture beside his old man.

      ‘Oh P-p-pa, s-s-s-speak to me, speak to me!…’

      Wallace was lying on his back, with his wings throwed out to the sides and his feet sticking up in the air. He lifted his head and blinked his eyes.

      ‘Are you the gatekeeper of this place?’

      ‘Uh…g-g-gate k-k-keeper?’

      ‘This here’s Buzzard Heaven and I want in, even if I have to pay.’

      “N-n-no, this a-a-ain’t B-b-buzzard H-heaven, P-p-pa.’

      ‘What! It ain’t…in that case, mister, I ain’t going in, and you ain’t got horses enough to drag me!….’

      Now, let me say right here that I’d never had much use for Old Man Wallace. He and I had run into each other on several occasions and he’d always struck me as a loud, overbearing, self-centered, unfriendly old buzzard.

      But Junior was a different kind of bird. For one thing, he liked to sing, and anybody who likes to sing can’t be entirely bad, even if he happens to be a buzzard. Junior had always treated me fair and square, and even though I didn’t approve 100 percent of his profession and eating habits, I couldn’t help liking him.”

      From Hank the Cowdog #13: The Wounded Buzzard on Christmas Eve

      (formatting change from link is mine, to clarify what’s a character introduction and what’s a quote from the book)

      1. John Erickson is very good people. I know him (his cousin is a dear friend of mine). His non-fiction is also very good, and inspired me to tackle what became my dissertation and other academic work. He and his family lost their house and other buildings to a galloping range fire a few years back.

        1. I knew their place had burnt– his son posted on…some sort of social media… that they’d gotten dad out, etc. (Was when I bit the bullet and bought the first 20 books, had been putting it off because I “knew” the kids woudl destroy them… oddly, they’re mostly intact, and not from lack of use.)

          I’m delighted to hear he really is what he sounds like!

          1. At one time he sold the IP to Hollywierd, heard what they were going to do with it, and almost went broke buying it back, because they wouldn’t agree that the characters are a family, as in husband, wife, kids (among other things). Serious Respect for the man.

  68. WHOLLY unrelated but of general interest. From the Wall Street Journal which has a paywall so just headline and lede:

    Penguin Random House Parent Near Deal to Buy Simon & Schuster From ViacomCBS
    ViacomCBSInc. is close to a deal to sell book publisher Simon & Schuster to German media giant Bertelsmann SE for more than $2 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

  69. Ah! Another good one: My Side of the Mountain. If I recall right, the sequels fall into a certain amount of stupid environmentalism garbage (I only read the first of the sequels, and all I remember is “meh”) but the first one is great.

    Granted, any kid that attempted that nowadays would probably end up with his parents arrested (not that the kid in the book asked permission of his parents either–and I think it was written in the early 60s) and shunted into the foster system right quick. If they actually survived…

    1. Ah, Swallows and Amazons. Four children go out to an island to camp during the summer. One can’t even swim properly. And their mother is very careful to ensure that they have contact with an adult once a day.

  70. I’ve heard good things about G. A. Henty’s books, though I never got into them myself. Most or all of them are likely past copyright by now, and a lot of the Kindle editions are free. As to the state of education and such, this link (yes, it’s to my own blog, but a couple years old and the real work was done by Joseph Moore who also lurks here) showed up in John C. Wright’s comments section.

    (No, I didn’t put it there.)

  71. From Jerry Pournelle’s Chaos Manor. Dr. Pournelle has published the The 1914 California Sixth Grade Reader, which includes classical stories and poems that every high school student studied in that era plus his commentary. We think it would be an excellent book for a student of any age. It was published in July, 2014, and is available in ebook (Kindle) form

Comments are closed.