Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen

Lies My Teacher Told Me

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, conflic...


Details Lies My Teacher Told Me

TitleLies My Teacher Told Me
ISBN9781620973929
Author
Release DateJul 24th, 2018
PublisherThe New Press
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Education, Politics, North American Hi..., American History
Rating

Reviews Lies My Teacher Told Me

  • Jim
    2007-11-07
    This was a great book! The first two-thirds gives example after example of the many lies, omissions, and half-truths found in American high school history books, and the last third speculates why this has happened. Here's one example:Almost everyone knew the world was round before 1492. Columbus's main reason for traveling to the new world to find gold, and he was responsible for killing, torturing and enslaving natives by the millions. Eight mil...
  • Maurean
    2008-01-30
    I originally picked this up several years ago because the blurb on the back cover appealed to me:“Lies My Teacher Told Me” is for anyone who has ever fallen asleep in history class."Mr. Loewen’s premise is that history textbooks have been presented to portray a slanted, optimistic and patriotic “dumbed-down” view of America, because this suits the needs of the conservative white people who sit on the textbook adoption boards. By critiqu...
  • Jamie
    2008-08-01
    Ostensibly, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James Loewen is a book about factual inaccuracies found in a survey of twelve popular History textbooks. That's a good hook, but unfortunately once the hook gets you the place it pulls you into is slightly different than what you might expect. This book might more accurately be titled Subtle Biases Created by Questionable Omissions in A Few Textbooks. But ...
  • Pouting Always
    2017-07-26
    James Loewen reviews the history books commonly used in the US public school system and the factual inaccuracies contained in those books. The book goes over many of the common practices in publishing history textbooks especially those concerning sanitizing our history for children and what is appropriate for them to know about our country. Before reading this I had never actually thought about my own experiences in school with history but I feel...
  • Mischenko
    2013-11-16
    I had to take a sociology course when I was in college and had a genuinely interesting professor. He’s one that I won’t ever forget and still think about from time to time. He was the type of teacher that made learning interesting and it was a class I actually enjoyed going to. Anyhow, he gave us a recommended reading list of books he thought we should take a look at. None of them were mandatory, but I read them all. This is one of those book...
  • Felicia
    2013-12-08
    This book is a TOTAL eye-opener about how we're taught cultural prejudices and distorted American history through classroom textbooks. I mean, I'm pretty liberal, but the perspective of this author totally opened my eyes to things that I just took for granted about how our history was founded, about people we deify who were not the gods we simplify them into being, like Christopher Columbus and the Pilgrims, etc, and how racial inequality and sex...
  • Trevor
    2010-02-02
    The problem with this one is that it has so much content, so much information per page, that it is hard to know where to start. I found this book nearly life altering, particularly since I’m a week away from studying to become a history teacher. If you are in the US this is a very important book for you to read as you are sure to be shocked by some of the myths about your history that are discussed here. For the rest of us in the non-USA this b...
  • Kaora
    2013-10-11
    Americans need to learn from the Wilson era, that there is a connection between racist presidential leadership and like-minded public response.This book is so important to read.I do not know if there is any other field of knowledge which suffers so badly as history from the sheer blind repetitions that occur year after year, and from book to book.History is a subject that I haven't taken since high school. Because I, like so many others, found it...
  • Chris
    2008-01-31
    Why does nobody like high school history? Or civics, or social studies, or whatever they're calling it these days. Why does pretty much everybody hate this class? I mean, you have people who can memorize irrelevant sporting statistics for the last fifty years, but they can't name more than two nineteenth-century presidents.The author of this book, a teacher and researcher of history, started looking into this. He'd found among his high school and...
  • Evie
    2008-12-16
    I love works that give you the uncensored truth about history, but this particular book left me feeling as though the author had something to prove, rather than reveal.
  • Michael Finocchiaro
    2016-10-27
    While not as good or revolutionary of A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn, Loewen writes an entertaining and eyebrow-raising book about the hidden catastrophes in American history that your teachers did not tell you about. I would personally read Zinn first but this is an excellent followup (and much shorter if the length of Zinn initially intimidates you). It is highly readable and once again in the current context of fake new...
  • Jen
    2009-04-09
    When I started this book, I thought it would be along the lines of "your teacher told you this...but this is what happened..." You know like "hey columbus didn't discover the new world...blah blah blah" and there was some of that.But more importantly, and far more interestingly, this book is an indictment of how American history is taught. As the book went forward, even I found myself thinking "yep, that's what I was taught" and wondering if I wo...
  • kendall
    2008-07-07
    The thesis of the book is interesting and well supported, however, I found it pretty dry which was disappointing considering a main point Loewen makes is that Middle School/High School History books are too boring. He goes into too much depth in the first two chapters making the same point over and over again, while quickly and concisely exploring more current history, which again is the same criticism he makes of the textbooks he attacks. I also...
  • Dustin
    2007-12-26
    What I learned from this textbook:1. That it is not weird that I hated history/social studies in high school, but now find it interesting.2. That textbook "authors" can't be bothered to do their own research, so all the textbooks tell the same apocryphal stories (George Washington and the cherry tree, the first Thanksgiving, Columbus as all-round good guy, the US as "international good-guy peacekeeper, with NO ulterior motives), making every fact...
  • Daniel
    2007-09-20
    re-read the updated version. Still excellent.As a history major in college, I still have an affinity for the subject. This book was very interesting, because it challenged many of the things we were all taught in the American educational system.It's a real eye opener, and while you may have a superficial knowledge of some of the events and trends that we were never taught,or taught in such a way that the real issues were glossed over, this book d...
  • Josh
    2009-11-25
    Without question, this is the greatest non-fiction book I have ever read. To illustrate that claim, let me highlight that it served, in large part, as the inspiration for my master's thesis. In it, Loewen, a college professor, is constantly frustrated by how little his young, incoming freshmen know about history. So, in the late 90s he wrote a scathing investigation of the most common history textbooks used in secondary classes. He details how po...
  • Justin
    2007-08-22
    Lies My Teacher Told Me is a well-written and insightful expose of some of the problems inherent in the teaching of US History in public schools. From outdated textbooks to gross distortions of basic events and major figures, Loewen exposes readers to a side of US History that most do not get in high school. However, I had a problem with some of his methodology. His survey of 12 textbooks didn't seem like enough to make a truly damning critique o...
  • Deena
    2008-05-11
    It is all well and fine for people to criticize historians for being snobs about who writes the history books... but this book is a great example of what goes wrong when non-historians try to write history. Everything in this book is taken out of context - and is therefore at best skewed and at worst just wrong. Context is everything. Nothing happens in a vacuum; historical events out of context are just stories - and usually not very good ones a...
  • Cyndi
    2018-01-19
    I learned a lot from this book. But I gotta tell you, its depressing as hell. Mankind is basically crap and have always treated each other badly and then lied about it. The atrocities in this book are horrible. Genocides, prejudices, tortures, so many horrors. If you’re looking for a book that will make you feel good about the kindness of our fellow human beings and the strength of our historical heroes, this ain’t it. But if you want to kno...
  • Lena
    2011-05-13
    In LMTTM, sociology professor James Loewen takes a close look at the subject of American history and why it is that high school students tend not just to loathe the subject but also come out of that class so badly informed. His verdict - the textbooks are to blame.In the 1992 version of this book, Loewen took a close look at the 12 most widely used history textbooks and discovered that their true purpose was less to educate American students abou...
  • Lisa Bell
    2007-07-10
    GREAT title! Really makes you think about all those HS History Classes you sat through and wondered what they were leaving out of the discussion. For example: how come we never discussed Vietnam? History magically "ended" at WWII; we always assumed that it just coinsided with the end of the school year (oops - "no time" to discuss anything after! Have a good summer kids!). This book really explores how the top 10 American History Textbooks taught...
  • Mike
    2012-01-29
    Before I get into this review, a couple of disclaimers, if I may.First of all, I'm not an American and was not put through the American school system, which means I have no first hand experience of the standard of history teaching referred to by James Loewen. I'm British and count myself extremely fortunate to have attended a very good school at home.Secondly, I am aware that history in many countries is twisted a little for either feelgood or na...
  • Cyndy
    2007-10-11
    great cocktail fodder. i think the author has a great overall point. especially since my mom is navajo and was raised as a baby in tuba city, az. but c'mon. does anyone out there still believe the shite printed during the cold war anyway? some of the examples in the book are pure sensationalistic crap. that's ok, it's no worse than the religious right's crap and in this case much more interesting and less mystical. i find it just as hard to bite ...
  • Ross Blocher
    2017-06-19
    This is an important book for anyone living in the United States. James Loewen takes a look at some of our shared national history, primarily through the lens of the textbook. He has combed thoroughly through 18 of the top-selling American history textbooks (and 6 additional ones as of the 2007 update I read). In those textbooks, he has found a pervasive Euro-centrism, in which the accomplishments of white people are given undue weight, drowning ...
  • Whitney Archibald
    2009-01-27
    This biggest reason I'm rating this book so high is that it was so thought-provoking. Loewen reviewed 12 common American history textbooks and analyzed the content based on historical accuracy and bias. Unsurprisingly, they all presented a very sanitized and rosy view of American history. His argument is that most of the textbooks in use 1. are very Euro-centric, marginalizing minorities (especially african americans and native americans); 2. "he...
  • Jeffrey
    2018-08-23
    Really enjoying this look at history, things I knew and didn't know, and also about how history is written, rewritten, or unwritten and why. To be fair, it's not the teachers that are lying necessarily, or intentionally, but certainly many textbooks.
  • Don
    2011-08-23
    UPDATE #2: OK, so now I am at a different school district — which places a lot more emphasis on using the textbook and “coverage,” and I can better understand what Loewen is talking about. So, I’m finishing the book to revise my criticism. (12/17)UPDATE: After reading the first 150 pages, now I just sorta have this book on my shelf and pick it up from time to time.This book is very good on a few levels ... It takes the textbook publishers...
  • Barbara
    2015-01-25
    This is a book I assigned my students. It is not easy reading, but informative. The one aspect of the book that I found unnecessary was the author's recount of exactly which high school history textbooks get which facts right, or which they leave out. Overall, this text uncovers aspects of American history that many of us don't know. For example, I associated President Woodward Wilson with being involved in the founding of the League of Nations. ...
  • Emily
    2007-04-07
    Wonderful read for students of American History and sociologists. Loewen conducted a fabulous study of American History textbooks in the late 80s and early 90s. What he found was a narrative lacking much depth, diversity, and frankly, any excitement. He was right. Most texts still adhered to the "great white father's" narrative of American history that our parents and grandparents learned throughout the 20th century. Much of American history, fro...