Schweikart Reviews Overdue Account of America’s True History

Published May 27, 2015

The final Heartland Author Series event before The Heartland Institute moves its headquarters from One South Wacker Drive, #2740, to its new facility in Arlington Heights was held on Thursday, May 21, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  Featured was Larry Schweikart, who along with co-author Michael Allen, wrote the newly released 10th anniversary edition of “A Patriot’s History of the United States: From Columbus’s Great Discovery to America’s Age of Entitlement.” 

It is irrefutable that during past three decades, many history professors have allowed their biases to distort the way America’s past is taught. These intellectuals have searched for instances of racism, sexism, and bigotry in our history while downplaying the greatness of America’s patriots and the achievements of dead white men. 

As a result, more emphasis is placed on Harriet Tubman than on George Washington; more about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II than about D-Day or Iwo Jima; more on the dangers we faced from Joseph McCarthy than those we faced from Josef Stalin.  

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A Patriot’s History of the United States corrects doctrinaire biases. Instead, America’s discovery, founding, and development are reexamined with an appreciation for the elements of public virtue, personal liberty, and private property that make this nation uniquely successful.  Offering a long-overdue acknowledgment of America’s true and proud history, Schweikart and Allen tell their story from the time of Columbus’s voyage to Obamacare. The authors don’t ignore America’s mistakes through the years, but they put them back in their proper perspective while celebrating the strengths of the men and women who cleared the wilderness, abolished slavery, and rid the world of fascism and communism. 

Introduction of Larry Schweikart

Joe Morris, as a long-time friend and supporter of The Heartland Institute, and in his assigned role to introduce speaker Larry Schweikart, pointed out what he called “Exhibit A” for homeschooling. Morris acknowledged four home-schooled young ladies in attendance at the Heartland event who were eager to hear and meet their history teacher in person, having used “A Patriot’s History of the United States” as their high school history textbook. The girls are being schooled under Classical, a Christian home-school K-12 program.  60,000 children are enrolled in this program.  

In praising Larry Schweikart, a history professor at the University of Dayton, for his ability to connect with the American people, Morris suggested four other current authors who can be trusted and who are likewise accessible to the American people:  Doris Kearns GodwinMichael BeschlossDavid McCullough, and Paul Johnson.   

Describing Larry Schweikart as one who earned his stripes in the academic world, Joe Morris spoke of Schweikart as being knowledgeable about trends in history and how history is made.  As a drummer in a REAL rock band before his love of history drew Schweikart back to the world of academia, Morris explained  how Schweikart understood the connection between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the love of rock music by anti-Communist young people behind the Iron Curtain.  Despite living under a highly regulated government system, young people could perform rock music in a group situation without permission from government to experience freedom and innovation in what was a highly regimented society.  Young people could pretend they were Americans!  It took President Ronald Reagan to grasp something special between rock music and freedom.

Since 2009 Schweikart has been a film producer.  His documentary, “Rockin’ the Wall,” about rock music’s part in bringing down the Iron Curtain, has appeared on PBS.  See here a short clip of the documentary.  Schweikart’s current project, “Other Walls 2 Fall,” featuring Yanni, Clint Black, Busta Rhymes, and a heavy metal band from inside Tehran, is nearly finished.  Also noteworthy is that Schweikart is presently writing a biography of Ronald Reagan. 

Schweikart elaborates about the how, when and why of his book

Larry Schweikart had an interesting and unusual tale to tell of how “A Patriot’s History” evolved out of an earlier published book dealing with the history of American business, “The Entrepreneurial Adventure.”  Wishing to write an inclusive textbook that dealt accurately and fairly with the history of this nation, a substantial revision was called for.  A history book that irked Schweikart was “A People’s History of the United States” by revisionist historian Howard Zinn.  Zinn’s biased history, published in 1980, is still selling thousands of copies a year. Many of those copies are assigned readings for courses in colleges and high schools taught by leftist disciples of their radical mentor. 

Essential to the planned revision was the inclusion of free market ideas.  In due time a 1,700 page manuscript was presented to several publishers under the title, “Cup of Hope”, but only Penguin was interested. But first off the title had to go.  Also frowned upon was the number of pages. 1,100 pages were initially chopped, but the manuscript was still considered too long.  A further chopping of pages was mandated, which eliminated all maps, enabled the book to reach the magic number of 948 pages and made a $25.00 selling price possible.

A Patriot’s History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and co-authored by  Michael Allen, was first published as a Sentinel Book by Penguin in 2004.  As Schweikart tells it, although the book was modestly successful — “The Wall Street Journal” had a positive review and Rush Limbaugh likewise praised it — everything changed six years later. In 2010 Schweikart made a guest appearance on Glenn Beck’s program on Fox News, which back in 2010 reached a viewing audience of 3.5 million.  After Schweikart’s appearance he received an apology call from Beck, with Beck confessing that he had not read Schweikart’s book before the interview.  Upon reading Schweikart’s book over the weekend that followed, Beck found it to be most enjoyable.  What a surprise Schweikart had when tuning in to Beck’s next show!  Glenn Beck was discussing “A Patriot’s History” at length, brandishing the book in front of the camera complete with highlights and sticky notes, and asking that his viewers read it “like George Foreman selling a grill on an infomercial.” 

“A Patriot’s History” suddenly skyrocketed up the bestseller lists. Schweikart recalled how his publisher would call him and say things like “We’re going to be on the New York Times bestseller list!” or “We’re going to be in the top 10 on the New York Times bestseller list!”  Responding in a nonchalant way Schweikart would reply, “Oh, that’s nice.” 

Finally Schweikart received a call that the book had reached #1 on the “New York Times” bestseller list.  Schweikart, although amused by the popping corks he heard in the background, responded as he always did to his publisher’s call, without marked enthusiasm for the achievement.  Incredulous at Schweikart’s response his  publisher replied, “Don’t you understand what this means?  It’s going to be in Walmart!” The latter was great news for Schweikart, for he had finally succeeded in writing a history book that would be read by average Americans, rather than by academics or elites.  

The new 10th Anniversary Edition of “A Patriot’s History” published November 25, 2014, goes through 2013 and President Obama’s first term.  Included is a thorough examination of the George W. Bush presidency.  Obama did not receive good marks.  As remarked Larry Schweikart, “Jimmy Carter finally has somebody worse than himself and Millard Fillmore.” 

Although “A Patriot’s History” is considered a trade book rather than a text book, the book is being used at 30 different universities and colleges, among them Rice and TCU.  It is the required textbook at the University of Mississippi.  

Schweikart offers reasons for America’s greatness

In closing Schweikart offered his take as to why this nation has been successful:   

1.  It has a Christian, mostly Protestant Foundation.

2.  There is the presence of English Common Law, which was brought by settlers from England to the colonies. In colonial day benign neglect told governors what to do.  Common law will not allow Obama to become a tyrant.  It was because of Common Law that Congress was unable to pass the Senate’s immigration bill.  The American people overrode Congress. 

3. A free market system exists.

4. Written documents and deeds are issued for property.

Spotlighting The Heartland Institute 

Jim Lakely, Director of Communications at The Heartland Institute, presented these announcement:              

  • Known for the environment, The Heartland Institute received immense media coverage from its trip to Rome to challenge a proposed Vatican encyclical by Pope Francis about the threat of man-made global warming.  Heartland’s message:  that the UN is not the only word on the environment.  Heartland proudly wears its reputation as a climate skeptic as a badge of honor.  See here an account of Heartland trip to Rome. 
  •  The 10th International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-10) will be held in Washington, D.C. on June 11 – 12.  “Fresh Start” is the Conference theme.  Check this site for information. 
  • Freedom will soon have a new home in Arlington Heights.  The Heartland Institute is moving at the end of May after 31 years of renting office space in downtown Chicago

Among the many distinguished guests attending Heartland’s May 21 book event was Tony Mockus  and his wife Mary Lou.  Tony is a friend of Heartland and a distinguished actor known for The Untouchables (1987), Backdraft (1991) and Caddyshack II (1988). 

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[Originally published at Illinois Review]