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Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your…

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got… (original 1995; edition 2007)

by James W. Loewen (Author)

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1,951305,425 (4.06)17
Criticizes the way history is presented in current textbooks, and suggests a fresh and more accurate approach to teaching American history.
Title:Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong
Authors:James W. Loewen (Author)
Info:Atria Books (2007), Edition: Revised, 464 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:History, Read in 2019

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Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong {revised & updated} by James W. Loewen (1995)

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Loewen was on a mission when he wrote this book. But why does that have to be a bad thing? He admits his biases right off so the reader can take it all into account. I did, and Loewen is right to be angry, confused and saddened by the state of secondary history education.

The bulk of 'Lies' is his comparison of leading American history textbooks with the current debates and, yes, facts that comprises modern history.

The textbooks uniformly fail at their task of providing an engaging and thought-provoking narrative of history. Loewen goes on to point out how the blandly optimistic white-washing of history done by these books turns kids, and future adults, away from the subject.

In some cases the omissions are not terribly important and in many ways Loewen may be overstating his case to suit his agenda as other reviews have pointed out - but does it matter if he has an agenda, an axe to grind, when the issue is this serious? Somebody needed to say something, and we all should continue to demand more.

Loewen's self-confessed white male guilt to the contrary, it's plain that history textbooks are still euro-centric, incoherent, irrelevant and stuffed full of useless 'extras' that bury any redeeming value in the main text that might still be there. I remember using a couple of the textbooks that Loewen reviews and, thank God, I had high school teachers who ignored much of it, but I can still remember the insipid study questions, the glossing over of numerous events and figures, Andrew Jackson definitely comes to mind.

Concessions have been made in the past decade, but the problem persists. The authors don't care, the publishers want a marketable product, states want to see their heroes mentioned and idolized, teachers want study guides and multimedia that theoretically will attract students' interest. Students are left not wanting to hear any of it.

Most of what made the real heroes of American history heroic - their personal struggles, their conflicted ideology, their triumph over obstacles, including those they brought on themselves, are pressed out and confined to little boxes in margins.

History doesn't have to be taught this way. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
REQUIRED READING....particularly if you are student brighter than your high school history teacher and are bored in class. Should be read by educators as well ( )
  brangwinn | Sep 27, 2018 |
I liked this book very much, things one learns in the classroom are really intended for the young mind. I like this book as it opens the door to new ideas and facts that one day might be added to the books we find in the classroom. ( )
  mable1002000 | Aug 12, 2018 |
Amazing revelations about how American history is taught in U.S. high schools. I was instinctually and completely skeptical about the history I was learning in high school and now I know why. ( )
  aseikonia | Jan 15, 2018 |
Loewen painstakingly critiques American history textbooks (and it sounds like he's read them all, which - ugh - they sound awful) in fact and theme. He also fills in some of the missing bits, including facets of the contact between European settlers and Native Americans, chattel slavery, the aftermath of chattel slavery, and the post-WWII era. As the title indicates, he works up quite a righteous indignation over how American history is taught, and how in the best case, it robs students of interest in history, and in the worst case, it solidifies the dominant narrative of white America. You picked up a book with "lies" in the title, so you probably know it's likely to make you angry :)

Thankfully none of my American History teachers got history quite so wrong as what is described in this book. I remember only one textbook, which I mostly ignored, but by high school we were reading Edmund Morgan and other books written by actual historians. I always wondered why more people weren't interested in history, and now I know. ( )
  bexaplex | Jan 1, 2018 |
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This LT Work is the completely revised and updated edition of James Loewen's book, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong (2007). Please do not combine it with the original edition (1995). Thank you.
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