Lies Across America: What American Historic Sites Get Wrong

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Simon and Schuster, Oct 16, 2007 - Education - 464 pages
5 Reviews
From the author of the national bestseller Lies My Teacher Told Me, the second myth-busting history book which focuses on the inaccuracies, myths, and lies that can be found at national landmarks and historical sites all across America.

In Lies Across America, James W. Loewen continues his mission, begun in the award-winning Lies My Teacher Told Me, of overturning the myths and misinformation that too often pass for American history. This is a one-of-a-kind examination of sites all over the country where history is literally written on the landscape, including historical markers, monuments, historic houses, forts, and ships. With entries drawn from each of the fifty states, Loewen reveals that:
  • The USS Intrepid, the “feel-good” war museum, celebrates its glorious service in World War II but nowhere mentions the three tours it served in Vietnam.
  • The Jefferson Memorial misquotes from the Declaration of Independence and skews Jefferson’s writings to present this conflicted slave owner as a near abolitionist.
  • Abraham Lincoln had been dead for thirty years when his birthplace cabin was built.

Lies Across America is a reality check for anyone who has ever sought to learn about America through the nation’s public sites and markers. Entertaining and enlightening, it is destined to change the way American readers see their country.
 

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Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong

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A Confederate war memorial in Helena, MT? America's most toppled monument? These are only a couple of the things Loewen discovers during his travels around this highly monumented country. This book ... Read full review

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But but but the all serve make some interesting points but there are some areas where he is so radical and subjective his work is a tour propaganda. But if his chapter on confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest is a case in point. But calling him one of the most vicious to racists in history is really over the top. No one can question the fact that but Nathan Bedford Forrest was an accomplished killer it was said of him that he had 39 forces shot from under him and killed 4080 soldiers, he said he was one of course ahead.
Unlike the author the was born in in the 19th century and desperate poverty in the backwoods of Tennessee with all the violence is and racial and cultural atmosphere of that existed at that time. When he was only a young man his uncle and father were attacked and he defended them in a deadly shootout. He also was shot by one of his own officers but when he upbraided the officer and then and self defense killed him with a knife.
Let's take a couple cases in point first of all Nathan Bedford Forrest had 45 slaves in his personal retinue working teamsters. When it was obvious the war was going to be lost he gave them all papers but of manumission, when asked by a reporter about them he also said of them better confederates never lived."
As for his defeats he had almost none, General Sherman, General Robert E Lee, general PT Beauregard among many others called him the greatest military mind of the war. This is quite a compliment given that Sherman actually have a bounty of $100,000 on his head during the war.
I might add the author is not a historian is a sociologist with little knowledge of the cultural conditions of the 19th century.
As for his vicious racism Nathan Bedford Forreste gave a speech in 1875 convention and BBQ was held by the Independent Order of Pole-Bearers Association at the fairgrounds of Memphis, five miles east of the city. An invitation to speak was conveyed to General Nathan Bedford Forrest, one of the city's most prominent citizens, and one of the foremost cavalry commanders in the late War Between the States. This was the first invitation granted to a white man to speak at this gathering. The invitation's purpose, one of the leaders said, was to extend peace, joy, and union, and following a brief welcoming address a Miss Lou Lewis, daughter of an officer of the Pole-Bearers, brought forward flowers and assurances that she conveyed them as a token of good will. After Miss Lewis handed him the flowers, General Forrest responded with a short speech that, in the contemporary pages of the Memphis Appeal, evinces Forrest's racial open-mindedness that seemed to have been growing in him.
“Ladies and Gentlemen I accept the flowers as a memento of reconciliation between the white and colored races of the southern states. I accept it more particularly as it comes from a colored lady, for if there is any one on God's earth who loves the ladies I believe it is myself. ( Immense applause and laughter.) I came here with the jeers of some white people, who think that I am doing wrong. I believe I can exert some influence, and do much to assist the people in strengthening fraternal relations, and shall do all in my power to elevate every man to depress none. (Applause.) I want to elevate you to take positions in law offices, in stores, on farms, and wherever you are capable of going. I have not said anything about politics today. I don't propose to say anything about politics. You have a right to elect whom you please; vote for the man you think best, and I think, when that is done, you and I are freemen. Do as you consider right and honest in electing men for office. I did not come here to make you a long speech, although invited to do so by you. I am not much of a speaker, and my business prevented me from preparing myself. I came to meet you as friends, and welcome you to the white people. I want you to come nearer to us. When I can serve you I will do so. We have but one flag, one country; let us stand together. We may differ in color
 

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Contents

In What Ways Were We Warped?
1
Some Functions of Public History
11
The Sociology of Historic Sites
15
Historic Sites Are Always a Tale of Two Eras
22
Hieratic Scale in Historic Monuments
29
The Tallest Mountain The Silliest Naming
37
King Kamehameha I The Roman
40
The Flat Earth Myth on the West Coast
43
If Russia Can Do It Why Cant We?
219
Confining Helen Keller Under House Arrest
223
Famous Everywhere but at Home
225
Remember Fort Pillow
229
Forrest Rested Here
237
A Confederatekkk Shrine Encounters Turbulence
241
The Missing Town of Rosewood
246
The Beech Island Agricultural Club Was Hardly What the Marker Implies
248

Exploiting vs Exterminating the Natives
48
China Beach Leaves Out the Bad Parts
53
Killing a Man Is Not News
56
Dont Discover Til You See the Eyes of the Whites
60
No Communists Here
62
Using Nationalism to Redefine a Troublesome Statue
63
What We Know and What We Dont Know About Rock Art
67
Dont Criticize Big Brother
70
Circle the Wagons Boys Its Tourist Season
75
Bad Things Happen in the Passive Voice
79
Calling Native Americans Bad Names
85
No Confederate Dead? No Problem Invent Them
88
A Woman Shoulda Done It
94
Tall Tales in the West
96
Licking the Corporate Hand That Feeds You
99
The Footloose Statue
105
The Oklahoma State History Museum Confederate Room Tells No History
109
Which Came First Wilderness or Civilization?
112
No Lesbians on the Landscape
113
American Indians Only Roved for About a Hundred Years
116
The Devil Is Winning Six to One
119
Serving the Cause of Humanity
122
Red Men Only No Indians Allowed
130
Domesticating Mark Twain
134
Not the First Auto
137
Americas Most Toppled Monument
138
Coming into Indiana Minus a Body Part
143
The Invisible Empire Remains Invisible
147
Putting the He in Hero
150
Abraham Lincolns Birthplace Cabin Built Thirty Years after His Death
152
Honoring a Segregationist
156
Who Menaced Whom?
159
No Nation Rose So White and Fair None Fell So Free of Crime
163
The Only Honest Sundown Town in the United States
168
It Never Got Off the Ground
172
The Real War Will Never Get into the War Museums
174
This Building Used to Be a Hardware Store
181
Men Make History Women Make Wives
183
Suppressing a Slave Revolt for the Second Time
189
Mystifying the Colfax Riot and Lying About Reconstruction
193
The White League Begins to Take a Beating
197
The Toppled Darky
203
Let Us Now Praise Famous Thieves
210
A Black College Celebrates White Racists
214
To the Loyal Slaves
252
Who Burned Columbia?
259
The Last Major Confederate Offensive of the Civil War
268
The Invisible Slave Trade
270
The Clash of the Martyrs
274
One of the Great Female Spies of All Times
277
Slavery and Redemption
282
The Liberation of Richmond
284
Abraham Lincoln Walks Through Richmond
290
Getting Even the Numbers Wrong
297
A Sign of Good Breeding
300
Is California West of the Alleghenies?
305
Juxtaposing Quotations to Misrepresent a Founding Father
307
No History to Tell
313
The Reverse Underground Railroad
326
Telling Amusing Incidents for the Tourists
332
George Washingtons Desperate Prayer
337
Youre Here to See the House
341
South Carolina Defines the Civil War in 1965
346
Remember the Splendid Little War Forget the Tawdry Larger Wars
352
Celebrating Illegal Submarine Warfare
356
The Pilgrims and Religious Freedom
358
Making Native Americans Look Stupid
360
Which George Washington?
364
John Browns Plaque Puts Blacks at the Bottom
365
The Union League Club Traitors to Their Own Cause
369
Selective Memory at uss Intrepid
379
Omitting the Towns Continuing Claim to Fame
383
The Problem of the Common
388
Celebrating Genocide
390
Shards of Minstrelsy on a FarNorth Campus
394
Local History Wars
399
Effective Political Leader
402
Settlement Means Fewer People
405
Fighting Over the Good Indian
407
At Last An Accurate Marker
411
Snowplow Revisionism
412
Getting into a Dialogue with the Landscape
416
APPENDICES a Selecting the Sites
424
b Ten Questions to Ask at a Historic Site
428
Twenty Candidates for Toppling
429
Index
437
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About the author (2007)

James W. Loewen is the bestselling author of Lies My Teacher Told Me and Lies Across America. He is a regular contributor to the History Channel's History magazine and is a professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Vermont. He resides in Washington, D.C.

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