Recommending a “worst” book?

Several years ago I blogged about how I thought some of Amazon’s music recommendations for me were a bit wacky. Now its got me wondering about the general emails it sends out recommending books in various subjects.

Yesterday I received an Amazon email suggesting some history books I “might be interested in.” Listed twice — the book first and the audio CD third among the four recommendations — was The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson. For those who pay attention, I noted a couple weekends ago that last month David Barton’s book was voted the Least Credible History Book in Print by the History News Network.

One commenter at HNN said, “Barton misrepresents and distorts a host of Jefferson’s ideas and actions, particularly his views and practices regarding religion, slavery and church-state relations. As Jefferson did with the Gospels, Barton chooses what he likes about Jefferson and leaves out the rest to create a result more in line with his ideology.” As might be expected, opinions on Amazon are split. One reviewer calls the book “one of the best-researched books on Jefferson you will ever see.” Another, though, says, “Barton structures his book around ‘lies’ rather than chapters.”

You know what, Amazon? I think I’m going to pass. But I bet TJ would love the debate over the book.

If [a] book be false in its facts, disprove them; if false in its reasoning, refute it. But, for God’s sake, let us freely hear both sides, if we choose.

Thomas Jefferson, April 19, 1814

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