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Lies My Teacher Told Me about Christopher Columbus: What Your History Books Got Wrong
Synopses & Reviews
The national bestseller and winner of the American Book Award, thoroughly updated for the first time since its initial publication to include textbooks written since 2000 and featuring a new chapter on what textbooks get wrong about 9/11 and Iraq.
Since its initial publication in 1995, Lies My Teacher Told Me has gone on to win an American Book Award and the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship, and to sell one million copies in its various editions.
What started out as a survey of the twelve leading American history textbooks has ended up being what the San Francisco Chronicle calls "an extremely convincing plea for truth in education" beginning with the pre-Columbian period and ranging over characters and events as diverse as Reconstruction, Helen Keller, the first Thanksgiving, and the My Lai massacre.
In this revised and updated edition, James Loewen surveys six new high school history textbooks written since the first edition of Lies was published. In his inimitable style, he adds material to each chapter noting where the new books have gotten more accurate and where they are still fatally flawed. Loewen also writes at length about the way these textbooks treat the 2001 terrorist attacks and our "response" in Iraq. In fact, while researching this new edition Loewen made the front page of the New York Times in 2006 when he discovered that publishers were passing off as original virtually identical passages on important recent events in a number of history books. And in yet another example of the failure of American history textbooks, he found that "celebrity" historians whose names appear as authors in some cases have never read, let alone written, the texts attributed to them.
In anticipation of all the confetti and parades in celebration of Columbus's discovery of the new world, historian Jim Loewen sets the record straight in a provocative educational poster. The poster uses art and text to present an alternative history, thoroughly documented in an accompanying 32-page booklet.
In Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus, the bestselling author of Lies My Teacher Told Me offers a graphic corrective to the Columbus story told in so many American classrooms. First published over fifteen years ago and long out-of-print, the poster and accompanying paperback book sum up the mis-tellings—and reveal the real story—in a graphically appealing and accessible format.
In vintage Loewen fashion, the poster juxtaposes short quotes from a range of high school textbooks currently in use, with excerpts from primary sources that clearly show how textbooks have "lied" by knowingly substituting crowd-pleasing myths for grim and gruesome historical evidence.
In fact, these textbooks intentionally omitted every important detail that we do know about Columbuss fateful voyage to the Americas. Among countless other facts, Loewen demonstrates that Columbus and his men were far from the first to set foot in the "New World," and that the peoples he encountered there did not submit to the "god-like" authority of him and his crewmen, but rather to the deadly forms of smallpox and bubonic plague they brought with them from Europe.
In concise, deeply engaging prose, Loewen expands on these little-discussed facts, putting them in the larger context of a discussion of "truth" and revisionist history.
About the Author
James W. Loewen is the bestselling author of Lies My Teacher Told Me, Lies Across America, and Sundown Towns, all available from The New Press, among many other books and articles. He is a regular contributor to the History Channels History magazine. Loewen is a professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Vermont and lives in Washington, D.C.
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