Historian's new TV series tears apart America's revered founding myths

Historians in the News
tags: American History, television, Lucy Worsley

“History,” said Winston Churchill, “is written by the victors.” The trouble is, victors have a tendency to embellish, exaggerate, distort and, if all else fails, make things up.

There are lots of distortions — and one glaring example of complete fiction being accepted as hard fact — in Lucy Worsley’s engaging new three-part series American History’s Biggest Fibs, which entertainingly pulls asunder the beliefs many Americans fondly hold about their history.

It’s a timely series, arriving as it does halfway through the term of a US president, who lies more often than he draws breath.

In tonight’s first episode, Worsley aims her myth-shattering musket at the American Revolution, which has been distilled over the centuries into “a David and Goliath story” full of “high ideals and heroism”.

David is plucky America, rising up in revolt against the tyrannical colonial Goliath of Britain. “How much of the founding story is actually founded on fact?” asks Worsley.

Put it this way: the accepted account of the country’s successful fight for independence — swallowed unquestioningly by generations of Americans and celebrated every 4th of July — isn’t so much a tissue of lies, as a thick, woolly comfort blanket embroidered with the stars and stripes.

Read entire article at Independent

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