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This article appeared in the "Editor's File"
in The Textbook Letter, July-August 1999.

Superb Work

William J. Bennetta

Though World War 2 was the pivotal event of the 20th century and the defining event in America's accession to global power and global leadership, the American-history textbooks that currently are being sold for use in our high schools fail to provide any legitimate accounts of the war itself or of America's role in it. In these books, the chapters that ostensibly deal with the war are short on history but very long on multi-culti claptrap and politically correct trivia. They say little or nothing about the men who did the fighting or the men who commanded them, little or nothing about the dramatic, decisive technological innovations that enabled the Allies to prevail, and little or nothing about the men who conceived and implemented those innovations.

As a result, high-school history teachers who want to provide their students with meaningful lessons about World War 2 must look beyond schoolbooks and must gather information from respectable sources.

In this context, I strongly recommend David M. Kennedy's article "Victory at Sea," which appeared in the March 1999 issue of The Atlantic Monthly. Kennedy is a professor of history at Stanford University. His article is a superb account of the naval combat that began with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor -- combat in which submarines and aircraft carriers overthrew "centuries of doctrine about waging war at sea."

Kennedy explicates the strategies of the combatants in both the Atlantic and the Pacific, shows how those strategies were linked to technology, describes how warfare changed as technological innovations were brought into play, and tells about important officers, their decisions, their achievements, and their disasters.

Read, for example, Kennedy's sketches of Yamamoto, Nimitz and LeMay. Read his narrative of the collapse of the "sacrificial" American garrison in the Philippines. Read his account of how British cryptology and American weaponry put an end to Dönitz's domination of the North Atlantic. Read about Kinkaid, Nishimura, Kurita, Ozawa and Halsey at the Battle of Leyte Gulf. And be sure to read about "the single most valuable intelligence contribution to the entire Pacific war": Rochefort's cryptanalytical discovery that the 200-ship strike force which Yamamoto and Nagumo had assembled in May of 1942 was going to attack Midway. Rochefort's masterstroke enabled Nimitz to inflict upon the Japanese a defeat from which they never would recover -- but, for reasons that I have explained before in these pages, Rochefort and his achievements are invariably excluded from the phony, multi-culti "history" books that the big schoolbook companies are producing nowadays.

There is no multi-culti rubbish in "Victory at Sea." There is nothing but vital historical information, masterfully presented -- and responsible teachers of American history will find it priceless. "Victory at Sea" is shown at http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/99mar/victory.htm on the Web site of The Atlantic Monthly.


William J. Bennetta is a professional editor, a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, the president of The Textbook League, and the editor of The Textbook Letter. He writes often about the propagation of quackery, false "science" and false "history" in schoolbooks.

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