Helen Goggins: “How Revisionist History Works”

   Cristen Conger’s article, “How Revisionist History Works”, argues the current status of revisionism as a form of history and its current role in society. Revisionism is a way of revising history and fixing misconceptions and falsified information within historical narratives. Conger dissects the legend of George Washington and the cherry tree, she quickly debunks the tail as a lie used to bolster Washington’s reputation as a reputable leader. Cherry trees were not grown on his family’s land, proving that the story was not a fact. The cherry tree is one of many stories that have been altered in recent years due to discoveries made by revisionist historians.

   Revisionism is going through different historical accounts that contain fallacies and revising them with new facts. Revisionists use facts to disprove common misconceptions in popular history. New artifacts, discoveries, declassified information, and personal stories help to reshape the standard, public accounts.Revisionism utilizes different social lenses, including the political, economic, racial and sexual, and have the ability to disrupt historical narratives that have often focused on white, wealthy men.

   The editing of history causes critics to question the validity of new “facts” presented by revisionist historians. In recent years some revisionist historians have denied the Holocaust and questioned other well documented events. Conger is quick to point out that such denial is not a form of revisionism but instead politically motivated negationism.

   Throughout the entire article Conger explores different forms that revisionism has taken over the years, discussing its origin, lenses, and means of clarifying facts within muddled histories. The article dedicates time to noting the many benefits of revisionism, but does not shy away from pointing out the obvious flaws of revising an established narrative.  

“How Revisionist History Works.” HowStuffWorks. January 07, 2009. Accessed September 14, 2017. http://history.howstuffworks.com/history-vs-myth/revisionist-history.htm.


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