A Basic History of the United States six volume set
by historian Clarence B. Carson, PhD
Soon after this set was originally published as a five volume set in the 1980s, The Foundation for Economic Education published a review. The following excerpt from that 1987 article provides an excellent description of these books.
For Carson, history is not merely a collection of facts and dates, an account of explorations, settlements, westward expansion, wars, Presidents, and elections. History is the product of the actions of countless individuals, each under the influence of certain ideas. And Carson explores those ideas, ideologies, and “isms.” He shows how they were responsible for the settlement of this continent, the struggle for freedom, the westward expansion, the construction of schools, churches, factories, and the founding of new religious denominations. He explains why our ancestors fought for their beliefs, and strove to create a government, limited in scope, with checks and balances, that would not have the power to oppress the people.
As the late Ludwig von Mises wrote, “The genuine history of mankind is the history of ideas. . . . Ideas engender social institutions, political changes, technological methods of production, and all that is called economic conditions. . . . New ideas . . . are the response offered by a man’s mind to the ideas developed by his predecessors.” (Theory and History, p. 187)
This is Carson’s approach. He explores the ideas from which events spring, explains their complex interrelationships, and makes them understandable. He discusses at length the 19th- century authors, romanticists, utopians, and religious crusaders who sought to make society over according to their own plans. He shows how the views of some of these idealists served in time to undermine the role of law and to limit the freedom of individuals. He deals with radicalism, Marxism, populism, and progressivism, and shows how each has contributed to the growth of government. . . .
Carson earned his Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University. As the author of books on this nation’s early years (The American Tradition and TheRebirth of Liberty), 19th-century America (Throttling the Railroads and The Fateful Turn), the ideological turn toward socialism (Flight from Reality and The World in the Grip of an Idea), and recent government intervention (The War on the Poor and Organized Against Whom?), he is well equipped to write a survey of U.S. history. Whatever the future brings for this country, Carson’s overview will help us to better understand how it came about.
These five volumes are profusely illustrated. Each contains portraits and biographical vignettes of leading figures, and is indexed and footnoted. The footnotes, which are numbered in sequence from the beginning to the end of each volume, make it easy to locate a specific reference. At the end of each volume there are “Suggestions for Additional Reading.” Thus these volumes are not only “storybook history,” but they can lead the reader to further exciting reading.
Reviews and Comments:
This entire series gives a far more accurate account of our history and puts Progressivism in its place. It’s about time honesty and integrity is returned to the discipline of historic studies! Even Edward Gibbon would approve!