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When I started teaching 8th grade US history 10 years ago, I searched high and low for a good textbook. Needless to say, that search was fruitless. The textbooks that I found were either incomprehensibly written or dumbed down to the point of being intellectually insulting to a 13 year old. Moreover, none told the story of our history that my students really wanted to hear: the history of African-Americans, of Native Americans, and what life was really like for our ancestors. Following the maxim “if you want something done right you’ve got to do it yourself,” I set out to write the textbook that my students wanted.
This project was never meant to be more than a labor of love. But after years of students (and parents!) asking me why I didn’t sell my textbook, I finally decided to do just that. Here is “We Take Nothing by Conquest”, a warts-and-all history of the United States from Columbus through Reconstruction. This textbook wasn’t written to pass the bureaucratic demands of state education boards; rather, it was written to excite students about the real history of this country. This textbook looks out our nation’s triumphs and tragedies, its successes and failures, its revolutionary ideals and inhumane practices. It pulls no punches, and that’s why students respond so well to it: it tells them what really happened.
This 370 page textbook is divided into 10 Units. Eight units explore the human history of the period covered, with a special focus on the mostly glossed-over story of African-Americans and Native Americans. These units cover: the first European explorers and colonies in the New World; the 13 colonies; the Road to Revolution; the Revolutionary War and Independence; the political developments of the new republic; westward expansion; and the fight over the expansion of slavery. One additional unit covers the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and the final unit examines how race-based slavery started in the first place and how it came to dominate the economic structure of the 13 colonies and the new nation. This textbook has been battle-tested in the crucible of my 8th grade classroom, and I know it’s a hit with kids because every year I get calls from former students asking for new copies to use for their 11th grade US history classes.
The textbook can be used as a stand-alone text, or as a supplement to a more traditional textbook. At my store, For more like this, visit my store: Ye Olde US History Emporium, you can also find the complete curriculum that is designed to complement this textbook, including Teacher Guides, inquiry based study guides, PowerPoints, games, activities, project, primary source document activities, quizzes, tests, and more.
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