Pseudo-Historian David Barton's New Jefferson Book is a Load of Crap -- and a Bestseller
Chris Rodda printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed May 02, 2012 at 03:34:16 PM EST
Anyone who saw Jon Stewart's interview of Christian nationalist pseudo-historian David Barton on The Daily Show last night probably noticed something missing -- there was almost no discussion about what's actually in Barton's new book, The Jefferson Lies. Instead of talking about the book, Stewart opted for talking about more general topics, and Barton was able to walk away completely unscathed.

When I first got Barton's book a little over a month ago, I decided to do what I usually do with Barton's crap, and made a video debunking some of the book's many lies. This was when I did not anticipate that Barton's book would become a bestseller and make the leap into the mainstream, climbing to #11 on Amazon and #25 on the New York Times bestsellers list.

After the interview on The Daily Show last night, I feel like I need to put out something today, so I'm posting the video I made when I first got the book. It only debunks the lies in one of the chapters, and is really long, which is why I only posted it on my personal blog after I made it. I had planned to split it into shorter segments before posting it elsewhere, but don't want to spend the time doing that right now because I've changed course and, rather than doing the rest of my debunking of this book via video, I'm quickly writing an actual book debunking Barton's Jefferson book point by point.

My book will be out pretty fast because of the wonders of on-demand printing, but in the meantime, here is my video debunking most of the lies in Barton's chapter about Jefferson and the University of Virginia, which also includes many lies about Jefferson's other educational endeavors.

I apologize for the length of this video, but I hope people will watch at least part of it, or watch it in parts if they don't have time to watch it all in one shot. I don't have the resources to make slick professionally produced videos like the ones Barton is able to put out, so you just have to put up with me sitting at my desk talking to my flip cam, but I trust that most people will listen to the content and ignore the production quality (or complete lack of production quality).

I also have many shorter videos debunking individual Barton lies on my website if anyone wants to watch something that's not as long as this one.

After Stewart's previous interview of Barton last May, I was at such a loss for what to do that I decided just to give away a free PDF version of my book Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History. This book actually contains the debunkings of a number of the lies used in Barton's new book, and the free PDF is still available here for anyone who wants to read it.

I'm pretty sure I bought a copy of your book on Amazon, but it was a kindle edition for my laptop, thusly loaning it out is a bit difficult. unless you have any objections, I might start sending out the PDF to friends or anyone using Barton's alternate history.

by Hirador on Wed May 02, 2012 at 05:23:31 PM EST
... however you want to. I want as many people as possible reading it! And, just so you know, you can go to your library of digital purchases on Amazon and download the Kindle books you've already bought in the editions for other devices. I found that out recently when I got an iPad and wanted to put a book on that that I already had on my Kindle.

by Chris Rodda on Wed May 02, 2012 at 07:53:40 PM EST
there will be a hard copy of your book on Jefferson for us folks who distain reading long things online or don't use a Kindle etc.

by monarchmom on Thu May 03, 2012 at 11:19:19 AM EST
There's nothing like a good book in your hands!

Sometimes I print out the articles I want to read, especially if they're long.

by ArchaeoBob on Thu May 03, 2012 at 04:30:25 PM EST

will be too long to print out.  I spend so much time looking at a glaring computer screen that the last thing I want to do when reading for pleasure is look at another radiating surface!

by monarchmom on Thu May 03, 2012 at 05:37:55 PM EST

I'm going to put the new book out through Amazon's print-on-demand publishing arm, just like I do with Liars For Jesus. I don't sell a lot of hard copies of Liars anymore; most of my sales are the Kindle version, but I know there are people who still prefer real books (myself included!) so I'm doing both print and electronic with this new one. The great thing about print-on-demand is that you don't have to sell a lot of hard copies, but can still have it available for those who do want a hard copy.

by Chris Rodda on Fri May 04, 2012 at 10:16:22 AM EST
Also please see my post below about the Throckmorton/Coulter reply to Barton.

by monarchmom on Fri May 04, 2012 at 10:23:31 AM EST

I've been reading Liars for Jesus on my laptop and my Iphone, but had to replace the former not too long ago, but the PDF format makes it easier to email to an inquiring friend. Also if I was feeling particularly evil I'd email to Barton himself.

by Hirador on Thu May 03, 2012 at 03:53:39 PM EST

by two professors at Messiah college, Throckmorton and Coulter, called Getting Jefferson Right.  It apparently tears up all of Barton's arguments.  Have you heard of it?

by monarchmom on Fri May 04, 2012 at 10:12:47 AM EST
Throckmorton and Coulter are at Grove City college in PA.  The book (only on Kindle at Amazon at this point) is recommended by John Fea of the history Dept. at Messiah College.

by monarchmom on Fri May 04, 2012 at 10:22:02 AM EST
Most of it is stuff I've already debunked in my videos, posts, and book -- and a few in comments I've posted on Throckmorton's blog. I think the only stuff in it that I haven't already put something out there about already is probably the stuff about the Jefferson Bible. My Jefferson book will be debunking a bunch of new Barton lies from his Jefferson book that I've never written about before, because I've never seen him use them before. I guess Throckmorton and Coulter didn't catch any of these new lies from Barton because what they debunk in their book are pretty much all old Barton lies that have already been debunked before -- mainly by me.

by Chris Rodda on Sat May 05, 2012 at 02:28:38 AM EST
and thanks for all you are doing to counter Barton.  Now you just need to get yourself on the Daily Show!

by monarchmom on Sat May 05, 2012 at 09:42:34 AM EST

very much appreciate the time and effort you spend to debunk mr. barton's fictionalized history; i hope at some point you will be invited as a guest on the daily show. i grew up as a southern baptist during the time in which at least the leadership of the southern baptist convention honored the baptist heritage of promoting religious liberty. it pains me that so many the convention's current leadership has rejected that proud heritage and embraced mr. barton's nonsense. your book liars for jesus is a part of my personal library.

by banksh on Fri May 04, 2012 at 11:47:30 AM EST

your video debunking Barton's UVA claims and I have to say, I had such fun following along in my copy of Liars for Jesus.  It got to the point that I wished I had one of those toys to slam along with you!  Good job!  It kind of made Liars For Jesus come alive!

When you go on the Daily Show, just point out the redaction Barton did on Madison's letter to Chapman Johnson (footnote 61) and that is all the audience will need to know.

by monarchmom on Sat May 05, 2012 at 12:21:43 PM EST

"I did not anticipate that Barton's book would become a bestseller and make the leap into the mainstream, climbing to #11 on Amazon and #25 on the New York Times bestsellers list."
That shows me that the people that bought the book and thereby enriched Mr. Barton never got to actually study history in school.  shame on the schools they went to, and shame on them! We are heading for a great fall....

Jim of Olym

by rdrjames on Sun May 06, 2012 at 08:39:35 PM EST

Very well done Chris. I have enjoyed this exposure of Barton. When I saw him on Stewart it sickened me. I enjoy much of Stewart but find him far too glib on a number of topics. The interview part of the show is almost always the most poorly constructed segment and he seldom if ever pushes back at a guest. But then that is not the purpose of the guest segment. Occasionally, one does see a guest with a new product that is of interest. The idea of giving someone like Barton national exposure and a free ride is repulsive. Stewart is Jewish but the lies and distortions in Barton's work are not a secret. He has many critics. He is a very political animal to boot. Sometimes Stewart seems to have read the material of his guests. This time I actually doubt it. Your work is invaluable. I have a hard copy of LYING and will buy a hard copy of any book you publish and proudly add it to my library.

by tpsmithster on Wed May 09, 2012 at 01:13:35 PM EST

It is disheartening to see that pseudo-historian David Barton's new book on Thomas Jefferson is both a load of crap and a bestseller.  female rheumatologist near me This is a reminder that we must remain vigilant and check sources of information to ensure they are reliable. Despite the popularity of Barton's book, it is essential that we ensure we are basing our opinions on facts and not on misconstrued information.

by isabelladom on Fri Jan 27, 2023 at 11:54:23 PM EST

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