I recently was gifted a copy of Analog 6, published May 1968. It contains a series of short stories from the Analog science fiction magazine. It was written by Stewart Robb. I have not been able to find it easily available elsewhere — so check your used book store and cross your fingers.
The “letter” is dated May 4, 2415 and concerns the theories of American history in the 19th & 20th Century. Using the technique of the “higher critics” of the Bible, this future historians goes on to prove what a remarkable among of myth and fiction makes up the telling of American history.
This future historian self-consciously casts himself in the role of the higher critic who “proved” that David and Moses and Solomon were mere stories:
My method of demolition will be identical to that of those commendably clear-headed iconoclasts of earlier days, the Higher Critics. What they did to the Bible, including the Moses and Christ legends, I shall do with our nearly equally revered American history, so called, and perhaps more thoroughly.
He then goes on to “prove” much of history false. For instance, there was no World War II and no Abraham Lincoln. How so?
World War II is a “fairy tale”. The leader of Germany is “Adolph Hitler”, “a German ogre who burned people alive in ovens by the millions and who nearly conquered the world! now don’t you think that whoever made up this part of the yarn knew that the name Adolph in Old High German means Wolf Prince? Isn’t it a coincidence that he descended like a wolf on the fold of innocent sheep nations of Poland, Czechoslovakia , and other helped countries? This name is a fancy of the poets, surely!
He then goes through all sorts of “coincidence” of all sorts of names and events — all true, but all “too good” to be real. It is a lovely parody of how the Higher Critics can spin serious theories out of silly ideas.
I have often thought what will future historians do with the two George Bush presidents and two Iraq Wars? Did he serve one term or two? Did he overthrow Sadam or not? Did he hold office before or after the war? And some PhD student will propose the outrageous theory that there were two George’s father and son and there were two wars!
How someone in a study can tell me confidently what sentence was written by Hosea and which was written by Hosea’s redactor is beyond me. But then again, there was no such thing as World War II either.