Lies my teacher told me Everything American history textbooks get wrong

James W. Loewen

Book - 2019

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 973/Loewen Checked In
New York : The New Press [2019]
Young readers' edition
Physical Description
xviii, 282 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Main Author
James W. Loewen (-)
  • Introduction : Why I wrote this book
  • and other questions answered
  • The problem with making heroes
  • What did Columbus really do?
  • The truth about the first Thanksgiving
  • Through red eyes
  • Invisible racism
  • John Brown, Abraham Lincoln, and invisible idealism
  • The land of opportunity
  • Keeping an eye on the government
  • Seeing no evil in Vietnam
  • The disappearance of the recent past
  • History and the future
  • Does this way of teaching history work?
  • Afterword : The future lies ahead
  • and what to do about them.
Review by Booklist Reviews

"Don't know much about history," starts Sam Cooke's 1960s hit. In Stefoff's YA adaptation of Loewen's adult best-seller, updated with information to 2019, teens are introduced to a problematic lack of history knowledge and critical-thinking skills in today's students. After analyzing well-known textbooks, Loewen identifies them as the main cause of the deficit. Using Helen Keller and Woodrow Wilson as examples, the opening chapter pinpoints the root problem: heroification, in which ideals and archetypes prevail over an individual's nuanced life and effect on history. From here, the author takes readers through several commonly studied subjects in history, including Christopher Columbus, European settlers and their impact on Native Americans, slavery and the Civil War, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War. In the process of comparing textbooks' shallow, vague, and even incorrect descriptions with more accurate scholarship, he raises such issues as racial bias, Eurocentrism, American exceptionalism, and what these texts leave out. Loewen also stresses throughout that by avoiding controversy, textbooks never prepare students for the future. Evocative and thought-provoking, this is what history should be. Grades 7-12. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 7 Up—The original 1995 edition of Lies My Teacher Told Me shocked many readers with its blunt analysis of 12 high school history textbooks. This young reader's edition continues along the same lines, pointing out the fallacies involved when telling adolescents an idealized, incomplete version of U.S. history. Loewen focuses on the following themes: heroification (telling only the positive, exemplary parts about significant figures in American history), the realities of both the Columbus and First Thanksgiving stories, Native/First Nations experiences being ignored or told only from a European perspective, racism, idealism, classism, government 'perfection,' and the dangers of teaching history without considering its impact on the future. The book covers much of the same material as in the previous editions except with shortened, simpler text. Relevant facts and figures have been updated, as well as references to the current president and administration. VERDICT An important and necessary purchase for all secondary schools who want students to develop a love and appreciation for U.S. history while seeing it with clearer eyes.—Heidi Grange, Summit Elementary School, Smithfield, UT Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Criticizes the way history is presented in current textbooks, and suggests a fresh and more accurate approach to teaching American history.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Adapted for readers aged 12 through 18, the best-selling and award-winning guide that pokes holes in the textbook versions of history covers topics including the first Thanksgiving, , Helen Keller, 9/11 and the Iraq War. 25,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Now adapted for young readers ages 12 through 18, the national bestseller that makes real American history come alive in all of its conflict, drama, and complexity Lies My Teacher Told Me is one of the most important—and successful—history books of our time. Having sold nearly two million copies, the book won an American Book Award and the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship. Now Rebecca Stefoff, the acclaimed nonfiction children's writer who adapted Howard Zinn's bestseller A People's History of the United States for young readers, makes Loewen's beloved work available to younger students.Essential reading in our age of fake news and slippery, sloppy history, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Young Readers' Edition cuts through the mindless optimism and outright lies found in most textbooks that are often not even really written by their "authors." Loewen is, as historian Carol Kammen has said, the history teacher we all should have had. Beginning with pre-Columbian history and then covering characters and events as diverse as the first Thanksgiving, Helen Keller, the My Lai massacre, 9/11, and the Iraq War, Loewen's lively, provocative telling of American history is a "counter-textbook that retells the story of the American past" (The Nation).This streamlined young readers' edition is rich in vivid details and quotations from primary sources that poke holes in the textbook versions of history and help students develop a deeper understanding of our world. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Young Readers' Edition brings this classic text to a new generation of readers (and their parents and teachers) who will welcome and value its honesty, its humor, and its integrity.