Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong

Book – Non-fiction. By James W. Loewen. 2018. 480 pages.
Provides a detailed critique of 12 leading high school history textbooks.

  • Time Periods: All US History | Themes: Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery, US Foreign Policy | Reading Levels: Adult, High School | Resource Types: Books: Non-Fiction

This book provides a detailed critique of twelve leading high school U.S. history textbooks, based on a survey and analysis of eighteen texts. In addition to documenting the inaccuracies and omissions, Loewen provides the history that is missing. This is an essential resource for every history teacher.

In 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 9/11 and the Iraq War. [Publisher’s description.]

“Every teacher, every student of history, every citizen should read this book. It is both a refreshing antidote to what has passed for history in our educational system and a one-volume education in itself.” —Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States



Table of Contents

Chapter 1 | Handicapped by History: The Process of Hero-making
The truth about Helen Keller, Woodrow Wilson, Betsy Ross, etc.

Chapter 2 | 1493: The True Importance of Christopher Columbus
From the real ‘discoverer’ of the New World to the myths about a flat world to the enslavement and extermination of the Arawaks to Columbus’ penniless’ death.

Chapter 3 | The Truth about the First Thanksgiving

Chapter 4 | Red Eyes
The truth about Native slaves, Native raiders, the French and Indian War, scalpings, the Louisiana Purchase, and much else.

Chapter 5 | “Gone With The Wind”: The Invisibility of Racism In American Textbooks
The truth about racism, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, lynchings, and the success of the Reconstruction governments before Reconstruction was ended by violence.

Chapter 6 | John Brown and Abraham Lincoln: The Invisibility of Antiracism in American History Textbooks
The truth about John Brown, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, carpetbaggers, scalawags, and slaves in the Civil war armies.

Chapter 7 | The Land of Opportunity
The absence of social class in American history textbooks.

Chapter 8 | Watching Big Brother: What Textbooks Teach about the Federal Government
How textbooks misrepresent the U.S. government and omit its participation in state-sponsored terrorism.

Chapter 9 | Down the Memory Hole: The Disappearance of the Recent Past
Why students rarely learn about events that happened in their teachers’ lifetimes.

Chapter 10 | Progress Is Our Most Important Product
The myth of Progress: bigger is not always better.

Chapter 11 | Why Is History Taught Like This?
Why so much time is devoted to minutia when large-scale epidemics among Natives are ignored.

Chapter 12 | What Is the Result Of Teaching History Like This?
Minority Students End Up Alienated, All Students End Up Bored, and No One Can Use the Past To Think Cogently About the Future.

Afterword | The Future Lies Ahead and What To Do About Them
How to Assess Sources, Learn About the Past More Accurately, and Teach Others What Has Gone Wrong.

ISBN: 9781620973929 | Published by The New Press.

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