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Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrongby James W. Loewen
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.
Since its first 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 has sold over a 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." In Lies My Teacher Told Me, James W. Loewen brings history alive in all its complexity and ambiguity. Beginning with pre-Columbian history and ranging over characters and events as diverse as Reconstruction, Helen Keller, the first Thanksgiving, and the My Lai massacre, Loewen offers an eye-opening critique of existing textbooks, and a wonderful retelling of American history as it should—and could—be taught to American students.
This new edition also features a handsome new cover and a new introduction by the author.
Winner of the American Book Award and the Oliver C. Cox
Anti-Racism Award of The American Sociological Association
Americans have lost touch with their history, and in Lies My Teacher Told Me Professor James Loewen shows why. After surveying eighteen 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 this revised edition, packed with updated material, Loewen explores how historical myths continue to be perpetuated in today's climate and adds an eye-opening chapter on the lies surrounding 9/11 and the Iraq War. From the truth about Columbus's historic voyages to an honest evaluation of our national leaders, Loewen revives our history, restoring the vitality and relevance it truly possesses.
Thought provoking, nonpartisan, and often shocking, Loewen unveils the real America in this iconoclastic classic beloved by high school teachers, history buffs, and enlightened citizens across the country.
About the Author
James W. Loewen is the bestselling author of Lies Across America and Sundown Towns (The New Press), among many other books and articles. He is professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Vermont and lives in Washington, D.C.
Table of Contents
Introduction to the Second Edition xi
Introduction: Something Has Gone Very Wrong 1
1 Handicapped by History: The Process of Hero- making 11
2 1493: The True Importance of Christopher Columbus 31
3 The Truth About the First Thanksgiving 70
4 Red Eyes 93
5 Gone With the Wind”: The Invisibility of Racism in
American History Textbooks 135
6 John Brown and Abraham Lincoln: The Invisibility of Antiracism
in American History Textbooks 172
7 The Land of Opportunity 204
8 Watching Big Brother: What Textbooks Teach About
the Federal Government 219
9 See No Evil: Choosing Not to Look at the War in Vietnam 244
10 Down the Memory Hole: The Disappearance of the
Recent Past 259
11 Progress Is Our Most Important Product 280
12 Why Is History Taught Like This? 301
13 What Is the Result of Teaching History Like This? 340
Afterword: The Future Lies Ahead—and What to Do
About Them 355
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