Have you or your children ever read a “Who Was” book?
Chances are you’ve at least seen one before. With over 250 in print, these short biographies for kids have been popping up at local libraries and Scholastic book fairs for decades.
According to the series’ official website, these books exist to “tell the incredible stories of trailblazers, legends, innovators, and creators.”
And with communism creeping back into the mainstream in recent years, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see Che Guevara and Fidel Castro lionized in cartoon form for kids… right up there with Harriet Tubman, Alexander the Great, and Ronald Reagan.
It does really make you wonder, though. Does leading a bloody communist revolution make one a trailblazer, legend, innovator, or creator? Boy, it’s hard to say!
Let me be clear: I don’t have a problem with kids books about people like Castro and Guevara. We should most certainly be talking about the evils they committed, especially with the next generation. (And even better, we should be talking about the cultural circumstances that led people to support such people—because it can happen again…)
But if we’re going to do that, we owe our children the whole truth. Not a mincing of words with descriptions like “Called a leader by some and a dictator by others, Castro defined not one but several eras in world politics.”
Fidel Castro embraced the evil ideas of Marxism and ran the vibrant country of Cuba into the ground with them. He was a vicious dictator. He didn’t just kill people who disagreed with him. Before executing dissidents, he would extract their blood to be sold to the Vietcong. And he was assisted by his second-in-command Che Guevara to carry out these horrific acts.
So, was any of that included in the Castro book? Take it from this reader’s review…
“I would rate this zero stars if I could. I got this book for my 12 year old nephew with several other books in this series. I held this one back. Fidel was an evil person responsible for destroying its people and country. This book paints him to be an angel. My family lived and suffered under Fidel’s brutal dictatorship. Find a truthful book!”
As for the Che Guevara title, it’s not much better.
The book’s description is generous to say the least: “[Guevara’s] legacy—as the author of The Motorcycle Diaries, a champion of the poor, and a force for change in Cuba—is both personal and political.”
Maybe they just forgot to include “agent of Castro’s communist killing machine” in there with “champion of the poor” and “force for change.”
So, how did readers feel about the book’s approach? Here’s one review that sums it up nicely…
“I saw this at the local B&N snuggled between “Who was Alexander Hamilton” and “Who was Ben Franklin” and read through it. I’m shocked this piece of propaganda is actually being sold in normal retail outlets.
It glorifies this mass-murdering tyrant and sets him up as some sort of pillar of human decency. I tried to find the “Who was” versions of Mao, Pol Pot and Hitler but it seems those “revolutionaries” are still taboo, for now…”
Looking at vicious dictators with rose-colored glasses or a sympathetic pen is a dangerous game. And that’s exactly why we are working on a brand-new Tuttle Twins guidebook for teenagers to be published early next year.
The Tuttle Twins Guide to Political Villains will go through the spotted histories of many infamous (and often misunderstood) historical figures… including Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. And it won’t spare the truth, no matter how unflattering.
Our team will keep you posted with more details on the book’s release, so stay tuned if you’re interested in purchasing a copy.
Failing to inform our kids about history means we’re doomed to repeat it. And while we can’t control what book publishers or crazy politicians are saying about the past… we can always make sure our kids hear the truth.
Now, off to finish writing this book…