Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong

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Simon and Schuster, 1996 - History - 383 pages

Winner of the 1996 American Book Award and the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship

Americans have lost touch with their history, and in this thought-provoking book, Professor James Loewen shows why. After surveying twelve leading high school American history texts, he has concluded that not one does a decent job of making history interesting or memorable. Marred by an embarrassing combination of blind patriotism, mindless optimism, sheer misinformation, and outright lies, these books omit almost all the ambiguity, passion, conflict, and drama from our past. In ten powerful chapters, Loewen reveals that:

  • The United States dropped three times as many tons of explosives in Vietman as it dropped in all theaters of World War II, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  • Ponce de Leon went to Florida mainly to capture Native Americans as slaves for Hispaniola, not to find the mythical fountain of youth
  • Woodrow Wilson, known as a progressive leader, was in fact a white supremacist who personally vetoed a clause on racial equality in the Covenant of the League of Nations
  • The first colony to legalize slavery was not Virginia but Massachusetts

From the truth about Columbus's historic voyages to an honest evaluation of our national leaders, Loewen revives our history, restoring to it the vitality and relevance it truly possesses.


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User Review  - VhartPowers -

I was excited to read this book and was completely let down. The author is just as inaccurate and deceptive with his wording as the history books he tries to refute. That being said did he do this ... Read full review

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User Review  - snotbottom -

I appreciate having someone who is willing to share the whole story, even if it isn't always popular. I may not agree with all of Mr. Loewen's reasons for why our textbooks so often get it wrong, but ... Read full review


in American History Textbooks
The Invisibility of Antiracism
What Textbooks Teach about the Federal Government
Progress Is Our Most Important Product
Why Is History Taught Like This?
What Is the Result of Teaching History Like This?
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About the author (1996)

James W. Loewen

James W. Loewen is professor of sociology at the University of Vermont. He is coauthor of the first integrated state-history textbook, Mississippi: Conflict and Change, and creator of The Truth About Columbus: A Subversively True Poster Book for a Dubiously Celebratory Occasion.

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