People's History, Founding Myths, and the American Revolution
Ray Raphael - People's Historian


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founding myths
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Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past
Tenth Anniversary Edition, Revised and Expanded

The New Press, June, 2014

“A distinguished historian revisits the American legends he effectively debunked 10 years ago and discovers that they die hard… A persuasive argument in favor of evidence-based history, even if it means surrendering some of our cherished fabrications.” ­ Kirkus review of the revised edition
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“Raphael relays so much forgotten or never-known history and argues so well why it, not the legends, should be remembered that virtually any American will profit from reading this lively, intelligent book.” — Booklist

“All students of American history will find Raphael’s correction of the historical record instructive and enjoyable.” — Publishers Weekly


"Raphael sees a paradox, arguing that 'The image of a perfect America in a mythic past hides our Revolutionary roots, and this we do not need.' In reconsidering American history, Raphael contends that Americans will be able to discover the stories of real people who can be the source of a true patriotism. Raphael’s goal is to peal away the layers of fiction that serve only to obscure our own past, and that prevent the actions and sacrifices of real Americans from defining American history. … Founding Myths shows that looking back and reconsidering history is a prerequisite of the very possibility of moving forward."    — History News Network

"The author exposes numerous myths before, during, and after the Revolution revolving around Paul Revere's ride, Valley Forge, Patrick Henry's 'Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death' speech, the Battle of Yorktown, and several others. In each case, Raphael outlines the myth, reveals what really happened, and, most importantly, argues why we must move past historical nonsense so that a truer, more democratic national record can emerge. Academic historians have long known these truths. Raphael deserves praise for his efforts to have that knowledge trickle down to the rest of us." – School Library Journal

"Ray Raphael's engaging and eye-opening book about the myths concerning the American Revolution doesn't merely debunk historical fallacies. Using the best modern historical writing and his own research, the author also explains why and to what purpose these myths were created and then offers well-argued alternative explanations."  — Sacramento Bee

“Ray Raphael is at his iconoclastic best in this book, demolishing historical nonsense, suggesting a new patriotism based on truth rather than myth.” — Howard Zinn

Click here to read the Introduction

Table of contents:

Heroes and Heroines

1. Paul Revere’s Ride
2. Sam Adams’s Mob
3. Molly Pitcher’s Cannon

David and Goliath

4. The Shot Heard ’Round the World
5. Winter at Valley Forge

Wise Men

6. Jefferson’s Declaration
7. An Assembly of Demi-Gods
8. American Aristocracy

Doing Battle

9. Liberty or Death!
10. The Whites of Their Eyes

Good v. Evil

11. Patriotic Slaves
12. Brutal British

Happy Endings

13. The Final Battle: Yorktown
14. March of the American People
15. Storybook Nation

Conclusion: Why We Tell Tall Tales

Afterword: Which Myths Persist, and Why

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