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Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your…

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

by James W. Loewen

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5,958911,416 (3.98)10
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
Info:Touchstone (2007), Paperback, 464 pages
Collections:Your library

Work Information

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong {revised & updated} by James W. Loewen (Author) (2007)

  1. 10
    How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr (pammab)
    pammab: Immerwahr focuses on history outside the continental US and how everyone in the world conveniently forgets how much US population and territory existed outside the mainland, through telling stories that never made it into the American canon. Immerwahr's book is a much better structured book to my mind than Lies My Teacher Told Me; it has an overarching thesis, and each of the chapters have a subthesis that is well-substantiated and argued. It goes beyond the thrust of Loewen's book, which felt to me like a collection of mostly unrelated facts strung together with nothing more than the idea of "filing off complexities".… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 91 (next | show all)
Was good to start, but quickly got repetitive. There are only so many times I need to read about how the textbook procurement/revision systems work. ( )
  Rebecca.Austin | Jul 11, 2022 |
Loewen loses points in this, not for his basic premise, but for the fact that it takes him 318 pages (and roughly that many exclamation points) to make the simple statement that American history, as taught in our high schools, is full of vague references, misinformation, and outright lies.

He's right, of course -- the texts present sanitized and inaccurate information in formats that actively discourage discussion or true learning, opting instead for memorization and regurgitation of often unrelated factoids.

Folks concerned about "cancel culture" or "critical race theory" better pass this one up, lest they be striken with terminal cardiac arrest and/or mouth-foaming. Most adults eventually come to the realization that Columbus brutally wiped out the first Native Americans he came in contact with, that George Washington did not in fact chop down the cherry tree, and that yes, by golly, the Civil War **was** fought to maintain slavery.

Unfortunately, Loewen doesn't present many practical solutions for the problem. Mostly he acknowledges that textbooks are written primarily to make money and that they therefore must pass adoption boards in the major markets (Texas and California being primary here), and that any text which hints that Americans by and large are not trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent, is never going to make it to the printing press, let alone the classroom. ( )
1 vote LyndaInOregon | Jun 4, 2022 |
This book is an expose on why high school students hate history and why Americans in general are ignorant of the historical facts of the United States. With the teaching of American history once again being challenged as "woke" and more ridiculously as "critical race theory" I thought it was a good time to revisit this book. Despite the title, this book is not an attack on teachers but on history textbooks which Lowen describes in detail as containing many inaccuracies and irrelevant details, as well as a boring writing style.

I have to note that when I was in middle school and high school, far from being bored, I was obsessed with history. I was privileged to have teachers who somehow dodged many of the pitfalls of American history teaching as well as the proclivity to learn a lot on my own through reading, watching documentaries, and visiting historic sites. I read the first edition way back when it came out in the mid 90s and remember it being mostly debunking the false histories propagated in several prominent history textbooks. On this reading I found it was less about debunking and more about why history isn't taught in a way that allows for critical thinking.

The original edition evaluated a dozen textbooks, while the 2004 second edition revisited some of those books as well as 6 new textbooks. This third and final edition was identical to the third edition but with a new introduction that pretty much noted that little progress had been made. The problem with history teaching isn't simple as one might imagine, and while fingers can be pointed at right wing politicians and parents for objecting to teaching warts and all history, they are just part of many complex and overlapping hindrances. From publishers who appeal to the lowest denominator to sell the most books to the authors whose names are on the cover having little to nothing to do with the books (and the ghost writers who do write the book having very little knowledge of the history), there's plenty of blame to go around.

As someone who loves history and thinks that kids should love studying as much as I did and gain the sense of perspective that critical thinking of history provides, I find this is an important book and highly recommend reading it.

Favorite Passages:
When confronting a claim about the distant past or a statement about what happened yesterday, students—indeed, all Americans—need to develop informed skepticism, not nihilistic cynicism.
  ( )
  Othemts | Mar 6, 2022 |
I had to read this for my History 271 class at university, and it was a really well done book (it has been a while since I read it, so I’m doing a not very insightful review).
I honestly liked how Lowen wrote, and his writing was easy to understand; he also keeps all of the events understandable without stopping to the overly obvious statements about the events.
I highly recommend this book as a must read! ( )
  historybookreads | Jul 26, 2021 |
A real eye opener, this book will disabuse readers of the notion that American history is a straight line of progress, and that their high school textbooks were any good at presenting it. ( )
  Jimbookbuff1963 | Jun 5, 2021 |
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Dedicated to all American history teachers who teach against their textbooks (and their ranks keep growing)
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This chapter is about heroification, a degenerative process (much like calcification) that makes people over into heroes.
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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 either the original edition (1995) or the later new edition (2018). Thank you.
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Criticizes the way history is presented in current textbooks, and suggests a fresh and more accurate approach to teaching American history.

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