Barton’s revisionist history book pulled by publisher after NPR story

Good news on bad history. The publisher suggests SOMEONE was lying but it ain’t Thomas Jefferson.

Publisher Pulls Controversial Thomas Jefferson Book, Citing Loss Of Confidence

Citing a loss of confidence in the book’s details, Christian publisher Thomas Nelson is ending the publication and distribution of the bestseller, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson.

The controversial book was written by Texas evangelical David Barton, who NPR’s Barbara Bradley Hagerty profiled on All Things Considered Wednesday. The publishing company says it’s ceasing publication because it found that “basic truths just were not there.”

Since its initial publication, historians have debunked and raised concerns about numerous claims in Barton’s book. In it, Barton calls Jefferson a “conventional Christian,” claims the founding father started church services at the Capitol, and even though he owned more than 200 slaves, says Jefferson was a civil rights visionary.

Tip: CFI’s Morning Heresy

The publisher says of Barton’s work: “our conclusion was that the criticisms were correct. There were historical details — matters of fact, not matters of opinion, that were not supported at all.”

While this is GREAT news for people who actually value evidence to support history, it does not change what some people will continue to believe. And, it will not stop Barton from republishing his disputed and unsupported ideas somewhere else. Because he might now be seen as a pariah, his books might sell more to a curious public. That would be an American shame.

Here is the original NPR piece. This was the most disturbing part:

David Barton is not a historian. He has a bachelor’s degree in Christian education from Oral Roberts University and runs a company called WallBuilders in Aledo, Texas. But his vision of a religion-infused America is wildly popular with churches, schools and the GOP, and that makes him a power. He was named one of Time magazine’s most influential evangelicals. He was a long-time vice chairman for the Texas Republican Party. He says that he consults for the federal government and state school boards, that he testifies in court as an expert witness, that he gives a breathtaking 400 speeches a year.

Seeking his endorsement are politicians including Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz of Texas and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who’s mentioned as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney. Newt Gingrich is a fan. So is Mike Huckabee.

“I almost wish that there would be like a simultaneous telecast,” Huckabee said at a conference last year, “and all Americans will be forced, forced — at gunpoint, no less — to listen to every David Barton message. And I think our country will be better for it.”

  7 comments for “Barton’s revisionist history book pulled by publisher after NPR story

  1. August 10, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    Revisionist history when done with proper scholarship and primary source support is a necessary part of historical studies. It’s why there are so many books published on the Battle of Gettysburg or the start of the Great War. However, such history when done poorly is just plan worthiless and worse than worthless as it can give the underinformed public a false knowledge base.

    This type of (at best) shoddy work gives zealots opposed to revising history unfortunate ammunition on why such work is inproper. Shame on Barton, shame on him.

    • August 13, 2012 at 12:14 PM

      I’m all for rewriting history, it’s part of what I do professionally (I’m an archaeologist, and one of my great joys is when archaeological evidence suggests problems with documentary evidence).

      But I don’t think that’s why there are so many books on the Battle of Gettysburg. There are so many on it because the topic sells to the general public, and to the devoted Civil War “buff” community. Lincoln, on the other hand, does seem to be a successful revision topic, where we really are getting better pictures of the man and his ideas/actions.

      • ToryTheTall
        August 27, 2012 at 1:40 AM

        Such as his penchant for eliminating the undead.

  2. August 11, 2012 at 3:46 AM

    I guess the only other option for the author is self-publishing … since nobody will now touch his work with a forty-foot pole.

    • One Eyed Jack
      August 14, 2012 at 5:57 PM

      Oh, the innocence… it’s very endearing.

      Barton will have no problem finding another publisher. He is popular in Xtian circles. There will be no shortage of greedy, godly companies chomping at the bit to publish “the truth they don’t want you to hear”. The fact that it was outed by “liberal media” and dropped by a publisher will only elevate it’s status among the target audience.

      Have you ever seen a Kevin Trudeau infomercial? He’s been outed in a US court, ordered to pay millions in fines, but he just uses that status as fuel to promote his next book as forbidden knowledge.

  3. xxi_centuryboy
    August 11, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    This [removed] pulls the Gish Gallup on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Stewart is usually not up to snuff to keep up. I am always disappointed when Stewart allows these evangelical grifters air time. He just did the same thing with Joanna Brooks and her Mormon story. He displayed his usual credulity and empathy with Joanna when he explained that Mormonism is going through growing pains and maturing. Just like Scientology.

    [editors note: name calling is not helpful. Attack the claims, not the person.]

  4. August 13, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    ““I almost wish that there would be like a simultaneous telecast,” Huckabee said at a conference last year, “and all Americans will be forced, forced — at gunpoint, no less — to listen to every David Barton message. And I think our country will be better for it.””

    If you’re ever wondering what the American right-wing ultimately wants to do …

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