Download Epub Format Ñ Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong PDF by ñ James W. Loewen 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.
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 like a lot of what he discusses was really valid and I agreed with much of what he said I do tend towards being muchliberal though but I don t think there s anything wrong with acknowledging our mistakes as a country and I think the fact that we dont educate people properly about our history and government plays a pretty big role in the many problems that crop up People deserve to be told the truth and to decide for themselves and I don t think it necessarily makes a person not patriotic to criticize it s country s behavior Many people are blamed for their poor voting choices but that isn t helped by the lack of information most people have about our actual history I really enjoyed this one and it made me think about a lot of things I hadn t before, my enjoyment of this may stem from the fact that I m still relatively young and haven t read as many books like this one though I would totally recommend it though to people interested in history or those dissatisfied with the static sanitized history they learned in school.
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 mightaccurately be titled Subtle Biases Created by Questionable Omissions in A Few Textbooks But that, of course, is not quite as bombastic a title and you probably wouldn t read the book, would you After a brief false start involving how Hellen Keller was a raging Communist, Loewen starts his review of American history in precolonial days, beginning with the atrocities of the Conquistadors and other European explorers Then it moves on to the atrocities of the White European settlers Then the atrocities of the early American, White colonists Then the atrocities of the antebellum slave owners Then the atrocities of the postbellum racists Then the atrocities of the opponents of the civil rights movement You see the pattern here It holds up for most of the book.
Throughout it all, Loewen does a pretty good job of showing how textbooks often omit information and whitewash pun intended the characters of prominent Europeans and Americans, such as Christopher Columbus and Abraham Lincoln And it is pretty interesting to read how, for example, textbooks describe how the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria were storm battered and floundered into the shores of the new world full of crews on the brink of mutiny, while Columbus s own personal journal pretty much says that hey, the weather has been awesome this whole trip and everyone is still in a great mood Or how Lincoln made several campaign speeches in which he turned his nose at the idea of racial equality.
And Loewen makes good points about how these omissions seem to be systematic done towards the end of downplaying the unpleasant like, say, the genocide of Native Americans through disease and murder and emphasizing the heroic like, say, taming a wilderness that in truth wasn t that wild because the Indians had already cultivated it but are dead now At times, his comments are impressively subtle, like when he notes how textbooks often credit President Kennedy and other governmental institutions for coming up with anti discrimination legislation during the 60s, when the government was, for the most part, bowing to pressure from civil rights activists, who really deserve all the credit This kind of misinformation, he argues, teaches that Blacks and their White allies were not the ones who enacted these changes can thus not expect to view them as inspirations for future battles It s a subtle point, but Loewen makes good arguments that stuff like this is all in the name of making us feel good about our country and unquestioning about our pride in our history And he s good about describing how this is doing a disservice to people both as students of history and as eventual participants in our system of government.
BUT, that all being said, I m not quite sure I ve ever read anything so awash in liberal White guilt as this book It s not that I necessarily disagree with any of this, but the tone of the work is often offsetting and sometimes approaches zealotry I was really hoping to readinteresting tidbits about stuff that history books get wrong, the kind of stuff that might serve well as idle chit chat at my next dinner party or bar crawl But it doesn t take long for it to become apparent that that s not what this books is about It s really just a vehicle for Loewen s politics Not that there s anything wrong with that and not that I found myself disagreeing with his politics too often well, sometimes It s just not the book I expected or even really wanted.
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 sexual inequality is subtly established in the text in ways that you never would notice unless they re pointed out for you.
I really recommend this as a way of seeing things with different eyes, really interesting and worth picking up 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 book is just as important because it serves as a guide to understand why Americans are so remarkably ignorant or ill informed about their history Along the way this book has interesting things to say about such subjects as why education does not make peoplecompassionate orlikely to think for themselves and why textbooks present such a distorted picture of US history in the first place This is, in short, a deeply powerful book about how we ought to educate our children and why the fact that schools do such a bad job at teaching history is part of the reason why they do such a poor job at providing the kind of education needed by students to help them live their lives in a democracy.
This book bases its arguments around what is printed in and omitted from twelve popular textbooks on US history The lies this book is concerned with are the distortions and untruths that are a commonplace in high school American History textbooks As he points out early in this book, the first year of most college history courses in the US are about seeking to remove all of the misinformation students have been taught in high school One of the author s colleagues refers to first year American History as Iconoclasm I and II.
And the distortions he documents here are nearly enough to turn your hair colour Take that ever nice deaf and blind girl, Helen Keller, who made good and thereby proved by the sheer force of example of her life that anyone can make it in America the land of opportunity, home of the free, land of the brave What is never mentioned, Loewen points out, is that this message, and this is the story presented of Keller s in virtually all of the text books, is the exact opposite of the meaning Keller sought to illustrate by her own life s work Keller, for most of her life, was a Socialist and avid supporter of the Soviet Union She actively sought to improve the lot of other people who were either deaf or blind while pointing out that these people were generally made so by industrial accidents She said that most of these people had no hope of achieving in any way similar to how she had If anything, it was her moral outrage at the social inequities in capitalist society that she wanted to be remembered for and the work she did to remove these inequities, work so that we too should be outraged and do something about these outrages but instead our textbooks turn a blind eye and stop up our ears to her life s work and message while painting a halo around both her and her teacher A halo so bright that it hides the truth with its glare.
His discussion of Woodrow Wilson is possibly evendisturbing Wilson s support of the Ku Klux Klan, for example, is never mentioned in any of the books, and his segregation of the US government is likewise ignored by all of the textbooks Of course, lies of omission are no less lies Did you know that when Wilson was president of Princeton it was the only northern university not to admit black students Or that Wilson only once met African American leaders in the White House but virtually through them out Wilson did much to bring about the modern world and many of his achievements following the First World War in particular are a great tribute to him, but, as is pointed out here, American high school textbooks seem incapable of presenting a worts and all picture of US heroes Take as an example Wilson s high praise of the film The Birth of a Nation a jaunty little film whose themes will become clear once you are told it was originally called The Clansmen and was about the great lie in American history, that Reconstruction following the Civil War was a time when African Americans dominated life in the south Wilson said, It is like writing history in lightning, and my only regret is that it is all true Racism is a key theme in American history and an important way to understand much about modern America And yet, it is a theme that is mostly ignored in all of the textbooks The part played by plague in depopulating America so that white and black settlers could take over Native American land is not discussed at all in any of the text books despite the impossibility of American being so settled without biological warfare Columbus s extermination of the Native Americans of Haiti is not mentioned in any of the text books and this fact fits well with the theme that heroes can do no wrong and if they did do wrong then such wrongs are either excused or ignored As he points out, In the early 1920s the American Legion said that authors of textbooks are at fault in placing before immature pupils the blunders, foibles and frailties of prominent heroes and patriots of our Nation I have known so little about US involvement in Haiti, but all I am finding out is deeply shameful and therefore reason enough to keep it hidden I need to quote this bit, Then the United States supervised a pseudo referendum to approve a new Haitian constitution, less democratic than the constitution it replaced the referendum passed by a hilarious 98,225 to 768 Of course, hilarious is used here in the sense that we laugh and cry about the same things However, Columbus s extermination of the estimated 8 million natives of Haiti, often by working them to death, makes most of the horrors that followed on that tortured island pale in comparison.
Did you know that King James yes, of the Bible fame gave thanks to the Almighty God for providing the plague that helped depopulate the Americas of its original inhabitants He was not the first or the last to do this, but you might not think that from any of the history books studied in American high schools as the entire topic remains taboo And just what was the Civil War fought for Surely not something as crass as slavery His discussion of the treatment given to the end of slavery in textbooks, particularly from the 1920s a time at the full depth of the nadir of backlash particularly in southern states, but similar in the north is heart wrenching History in the US seems to be written to ensure that middle class white kids don t get offended the effects on African Americans, Native Americans, Spanish Americans or working class Americans is of little or no interest to the authors of these text books.
The stuff in this book on white people living with Native Americans with even Benjamin Franklin saying that No European who has tasted Savage Life can afterwards bare to live in our societies is a damning indictment of our societies and something else never mentioned in history text books.
Did you know that the Native Americans paid 24 for Manhattan Island weren t even the Indians who lived there Rather than being stupid, these Indians are the colonial equivalent of the guy who sold the Eiffel Tower to scrap metal dealers Of course, finding the right Indian to buy land from was very low on the list of priorities of those doing the buying.
Look, I haven t even told you about classes in the United States and how textbooks assure students that there have only been middle class people in America since the 1600s The extensive chapters on slavery and reconstruction are mind blowing As is the factoid gleaned from his students 22 percent of whom thought the Vietnam War was fought between North and South Korea you d have thought there was a bit of a hint there in the name of the war, but obviously not.
Look, I could go on and on This book is truly fascinating and it provides some hope and lots of ideas on how history could be taught so as to help students think for themselves, to learn about their history and to engage in the life of their society None of these involve writing the perfect history book, but all of them involve asking that most essential of all questions so important they generally ask it in Latin cui bono Who benefits A magnificent book and one that has filled me with passion I can t praise this book enough.
When we censor our history by disguising our scars, we belittle the struggles our ancestors fought so hard to overcomeHaving 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 and the factual inaccuracies contained in those books The book goes over many of the common practices in history textbooks including omitted facts, hero worship, misinformation, and outright lies In a way, this book is an attempt to correct the way history is taught in schools While the focus of this book is solely on American history, it will make you think question about any history you read from now on The book begins with busting some well known myths like Columbus s voyages he didn t really discover America The myths around Thanksgiving, Civil War, Civil rights movement, the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, and even some recent events like 9 11 It is particularly severe on the trend of hero worship From Helen Keller to Woodrow Wilson to Columbus who killed and enslaved most of the population of Haiti , Loewen s book is a gruesome provocative re telling of American history He concludes that not one of the history books makes an attempt to history interesting or encourage critical thinking among students The book is an interesting read, often entertaining and at many times disturbing Loewen does a pretty good job of showing how textbooks often omit facts and whitewash the characters of prominent historical figures such as Christopher Columbus and Abraham Lincoln He also does a great job in pointing out how unpleasant facts like the genocide of Native Americans or slavery are suppressed and the heroic qualities are overemphasized The basic premise of the book is that history is biased and needs to be corrected So it was odd to find, that many of the facts itself were slightly biased For eg the Vietnam War the US may be wrong in interfering in Vietnam but to not mention Ho Chi Minh s background advisor to the Chinese Communist armed forces, had the backing of USSR and killed many of his political rivals is ironic If the purpose of correcting history is to replace one version of whitewashed history with another version of whitewashed history, the entire exercise is pointless Overall, the book is thought provoking and attempts to promote a dispassionate study of history He argues that students should be able to critically analyze the history they read, which is appreciable The book although a bit controversial, is worth reading, especially if you are interested in history Many thanks to the publishers The New Press, the author James W Loewen and Edelweiss for the ARC.
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 books.
I was never really interested in learning history when I was in grade school, not even American History Many of the historical events in American History that I did learn about in school according to the author of this book were inaccurate This book made me feel quite ignorant after reading it For example, as a child we were taught that Columbus was a great explorer who discovered America, not one that initiated cruel policies and killed people I discussed some of it with my grandfather who was also a teacher of many subjects and some of it he did agree with, while some he wasn t totally sure about Ironically, my children s 3rd grade history text is still teaching the people and events in American History the same way by withholding truth.
The section that discusses why history hasn t been taught correctly is thought provoking The author brings to question why American History has been basically dumbed down with very simplified requirements as to what we needed to learn to just pass the tests Could this be why so many don t enjoy learning American History Could it be why many can t retain it It was an eye opening book for me and I still keep it on my shelf for reference Although controversial, I think it s a book worth reading, especially if you have an interest in history.
My rating on this is 5 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 incredibly boring I grew up in Canada but largely what was taught was the same I learned the US presidents and how the US and Canada split But the underlying theme was the same Canada is great and awesome and look at all the things we have done But History isn t all sugar and spice and everything nice.
We didn t learn about Columbus in the slave trade, or how he used Indians for dog food, or how he cut their ears and hands off because he wanted gold We didn t learn Jefferson owned slaves We didn t learn that American Indian camps were Hitler s inspiration.
And not knowing is a dangerous thing History has been rewritten to avoid controversy, and in doing that we have removed any lessons we could possibly learn from it and any conclusions we may draw from it by independent thinking.
Our teachers have failed us Loewen does a great job of asking questions about why we learn what we learn and the dangers we face by modifying our history that is so relevant today History, despite its wrenching pain, Cannot be unlived, and if faced With courage, need not be lived again.
I highly recommend everyone reads this.
Cross posted at Kaora s Corner.
The new world was not populated by sparsely scattered tribes, but by as many as 100 million Indians, which were systematically wiped out by one plague after another, most introduced purposely Columbus s role in setting up the system is never mentioned Indians were hunted for sport, murdered for dog food, and given to officers as sex slaves Tributes in gold or cotton were due every 3 months, and Indians who did not comply had their hands chopped off.
The book goes on to discuss the invisibility of both racism and anti racism in history books, and example after example of how history books white wash our history, always making America look like the good guys, and never mentioning our mistakes.
The author would like to see history taught showing both sides of each event, and involve students in discussions of the pros and cons, which might make itinteresting to study.
Why is history taught this way The author speculates that, although we strive for the truth in all other subjects, we purposely lie in history books, beasue we are trying to use history to build patriotism and a love of America in our children, and the truth might get in the way of that goal We also want to shield our children from the harsh realities of the world, at least till they study history in college But most students never study history in college, and the facts go unlearned I found much in this book that I never knew Except for the controversy about teaching Evolution, history is the only subject whose content is dictated by parental groups and school boards.
This is a book that will make you stop and think like few others will.
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, Conflict, And Drama From Our PastIn This Revised Edition, Packed With Updated Material, Loewen Explores How Historical Myths Continue To Be Perpetuated In Today S Climate And Adds An Eye Opening Chapter On The Lies Surrounding And The Iraq War From The Truth About Columbus S Historic Voyages To An Honest Evaluation Of Our National Leaders, Loewen Revives Our History, Restoring The Vitality And Relevance It Truly PossessesThought Provoking, Nonpartisan, And Often Shocking, Loewen Unveils The Real America In This Iconoclastic Classic Beloved By High School Teachers, History Buffs, And Enlightened Citizens Across The Country