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In 1979, The New Yorker ran a very long article by Frances FitzGerald about American history textbooks and how they had changed over the years. She said that the framing of history depends on who is writing it and, more importantly, who is supporting that writing. Publishers present history in such a way as to make their product more palatable to a very general audience. As a result certain aspects of history are lost or distorted. During the early years of the Cold War, for instance, America’s motives for past military adventures were invariably justified in contemporary textbooks, whereas after the combative 1960s those motives were questioned.

These distortions were manifested by cultural and economic considerations rather than political ones. The prevailing mood of the country at any given time dictated how history was addressed. The federal government wasn’t involved, at least not directly.

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