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Of Muffled Voices: The Untold History of The United States (2012)


History is written by the winners and seldom by the truth. In fact, most of history is simple conjecture and assumption. But what happens when an Academy Award winning director and an American History Professor come together to debunk popular myths and even illuminate on lesser known facts and stories? We get an epiphany of the bubble that limited or even distorted knowledge offers us.

I think I speak freely for all Non-Americans that there is no country in the world that we despise and emulate as much as the United States of America. For close to 70 years, the United States has been the dominant superpower armed with a superior moral compass which points to anyone who threatens democracy. They learnt something decades ago which other nations seem to grasp only now ”When you become indispensable to the survival of the world, the world will come to your aid no matter what you do.” This is evident in the anxious breathe and prayers with which the world waits  every quarter or six months as the United States makes deals to manage its mammoth Fiscal Deficit. If the world wants to live, the United States must remain in status-quo of the past five decades. But how much of this moral superiority is true? Two Americans venture out to get us an answer.

Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick’s The Untold History Of the United States is a bestseller book and a documentary series which aired on Showtime in 2012. It traces significant events in US history with untold reasons and keen foresight. But why does American History matter to the world? Because there lies a parallel between the events impacting the United States and world history. Every action and inaction by the most powerful juror on Earth has a history altering chain reaction.

At first, you will dismiss the stories and proof as work of glorified “Conspiracy Theorists”. But by the end of the series or the book, you will find a stark contrast between the reality you have accepted and the supposed truth you are being told-No one is innocent. There are clear lines in the world today. There is America the saviour and the powerful and then there are its enemies evil and corrupt. But Oliver Stone never claims that America was guilty at all count but that everyone involved is responsible. An apt description of the standpoint taken by the series is a quote by Bertrand Russell-” War does not determine who is right – only who is left.”  And no country in the history of the world has been in a constant series of wars both military and non-military, than the United States Of America.

The series provides interesting and shocking revelations and at the same time enriches your knowledge on world history and leaders. To criticize America in the 21st Century is akin to a social suicide. But Oliver Stone draws on his patriotism to criticize his own country and its policies, even if it means polarizing people close to you. Like his cinematic gems, Oliver Stone makes a compelling case in our minds to question things we have accepted blindly.

History was often the subject my peers would criticize and dismiss as unimportant. But I have always held it in high regard because it teaches us about human behaviour and tendencies. If it’s happened in the past, chances are it will happen again. I urge you to watch the television series or to read the book. It is possible that you may dismiss some of the chapters and theories but I believe that if you end up with an urge to question and investigate few things in our lives and history which we have accepted with a blindfold, Stone’s mission will be accomplished.

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