EDISON, NJ—Immediately after dedicating 20 pages to the end of the Vietnam War and its aftermath, 11th-grade social studies textbook The American Vision awkwardly crammed the last 40 years of history into a little blurb titled “Into Our New Millennium.” “They spent a whole chapter on Teddy Roosevelt alone, but now they’re racing through the 1970s and just kind of stuffing Nixon’s resignation, the energy crisis, and the Iranian hostage situation into bullet points,” said student Russell Keener of the single-page spread, which somehow managed to encompass the attempted assassination of President Reagan, Rubik’s cubes, the Tiananmen Square protests, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. “It felt like we spent forever on the cotton gin, but now we’re just blazing through several decades like they’re nothing. One moment it’s the Lewinsky scandal, and the next we’ve got the first black president? It’s especially jarring when the last page has two thumbnail pictures, one of the Twin Towers falling and the other of a computer with a caption saying ‘The advent of the internet forever changed the way we see the world.’ Huh?” At press time, students reported not being certain how to take the book’s concluding sentence, which asked the question, “And who knows what will happen next?”

Advertisement