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
Release DateSep 3rd, 1996
PublisherTouchstone Books
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, Education, Politics, North American Hi..., American History, Historical, Teaching, Reference, Sociology, Literature, American

Reviews Lies My Teacher Told Me

  • Maurean
    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. Loewens 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 critiquing 12 highly u...
  • Jim
    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...
  • Jamie
    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 ...
  • Always Pouting
    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...
  • Felicia
    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...
  • Sumit RK
    When we censor our history by disguising our scars, we belittle the struggles our ancestors fought so hard to overcome. Having sold nearly two million copies, Lies My Teacher Told Me is one of the most successful history books of recent times. This book attempts to take a hard look at American history, trying to separate facts from myths and inaccuracies. James Loewen has reviewed the history books commonly used in the US public school system a...
  • Trevor
    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 Im 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 book...
  • Mischenko
    I had to take a sociology course when I was in college and had a genuinely interesting professor. Hes one that I wont 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 books.I wa...
  • Kaora
    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...
  • Evie
    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.
  • Chris
    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...
  • Michael Finocchiaro
    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...
  • leslie hamod
    A fascinating book which describes the educational history books used for years. Ignoring facts and twisting the truth, the author finally exposes the errors in history taught to our children up to and including the Iraqi war.A very education and eye opening experience!
  • Jen
    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...
  • Karina
    I read this a while ago and forgot about it until I saw a GR friend reading it. I liked its content and I agree that history is taught a certain way to bore us into stupidity. Who remembers liking history and who can remember what they learned? I don't/can't. Now that I am older I can appreciate it and want to discover what really happened. As "they say" history repeats itself.
  • kendall
    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
    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
    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
    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...
  • Deena
    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...
  • Lisa Bell
    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...
  • Justin
    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...
  • Lena
    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...
  • Ross Blocher
    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 ...
  • Cyndi
    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 youre 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 aint it. But if you want to know the ...
  • Jeffrey
    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.
  • Mike
    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...
  • Whitney Archibald
    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...
  • Cyndy
    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 ...