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Kyle Ward '98
American historiographer

Photo of Kyle Ward

Kyle Ward, historiographer, author and director of social studies education.

Photo of Kyle Ward Photo of Kyle Ward (right) with King Banaian, economics professor and interim dean of the School of Public Affairs 

America's understanding of North Korean intentions would improve if we read that nation's history textbooks.

That's the opinion of Kyle Ward '98, a leading historiographer and author of a trio of books that analyze the history of American history.

North Korean history textbooks describe situation after situation in which the Hermit Kingdom has defeated the United States.

"In North Korea's history books, every time they escalate, America, in their opinion, backs down," said Ward, who is the University's director of social studies education. "They won the Korean War in their textbooks."

Small wonder, he argues, that North Korean leaders are confrontational and reluctant to make concessions.

"You learn more about a nation's modern politics by reading their history textbooks than anything else," he said.

The author of "History Lessons," (2006) "History in the Making" (2007) and "Not Written in Stone" (2010) tells his students they are the antidotes to bland and biased textbooks. The social studies teacher's job is to provide alternative viewpoints, supplementary texts and myth-busting facts, according to Ward.

"Everybody just assumes history is written in stone, that the one story they've heard is the one and only perspective, the only interpretation. My students at both levels, high school and college, think the textbook is always right," said Ward. "The textbook isn't always right, because if you would have read the same story 100 years ago, the authors would have said something completely different," he said.

Ward was honored by the Alumni Association with the 2014 University Leadership Award.

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