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Don't know much about history

A conservative Christian group examined several new U.S. history books being considered for use in Texas public schools, grades 7 through 12. It was combing the books for evidence of un-Christian or un-American material. What the group discovered was shocking: hundreds of errors of fact.

According to a Wall Street Journal article, "One book said President Truman "easily settled' the war in Korea by dropping "the bomb,' although nuclear weapons weren't used in Korea and Eisenhower was president when the armistice was signed. The same book said Napoleon won at Waterloo and identified the leader of the 1950s anti-Communist crusade as Gen. Douglas MacArthur, although it was really Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Another book placed the Civil War battle of Vicksburg in Tennessee instead of Mississippi. Yet another wrongly dated the bombing of Pearl Harbor."

The state board of education's own panel of textbook reviewers had examined the history books and recommended their approval. The board was on the verge of doing just that when the Christian group produced a list of 231 errors of fact it had found in the textbooks. Everyone, of course, was horrified. Outside review experts were brought in. When the accuracy check was completed, more than 5,000 errors were discovered in the 10 history textbooks published by the biggest names in the business. Red-faced publishers promised to correct the errors. Education officials are levying fines against publishers for every error found in a book.

"It's very embarrassing and absolutely not the kind of thing we want to be doing," Barbara Flynn, editorial vice president for social studies at Scott Foresman, told the Journal. "But everyone agrees on the (Texas) board level and the textbook committee level that these are the best textbooks they've ever seen."

Her publishing house's American Voices had Truman using the atomic bomb in Korea. The book also states that "American troops encountered powerful resistance" in the Bay of Pigs invasion. The fact is no American troops were involved in that failed invasion of Cuba by a group of anti-Castro exiles.

Jane Nelson, a member of the Texas Board of Education, is disgusted. She says she thinks textbook publishers must be inept. "Maybe we need the Japanese to produce our textbooks," she said.