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Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong Paperback – October 16, 2007
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In these entertaining pages, Loewen takes a region-by-region tour of the United States, pointing out historical oddments as he travels. For example, a massacre of white pioneers by Indians commemorated in Almo, Idaho, never took place, Loewen continues; neither did many other such events. Indeed, he insists, "throughout the entire West between 1842 and 1859, of more than 400,000 pioneers crossing the plains, fewer than 400, or less than .1 percent, were killed by American Indians." And if you were to visit Helen Keller's Georgia birthplace, over which a Confederate flag flies, you would get the impression that Keller had been an unreconstructed daughter of the Old South, whereas she was in fact an early supporter of the NAACP. And so on.
After finishing Loewen's alternately angry and bemused exposé, readers will likely never trust a roadside historical marker or tour guide again--which may prompt them to turn to history books to check things out for themselves. As well they should. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Like his earlier book, one of his central points is that accurate and complete history - with all its controversy and complexity - is simply more interesting than the sanitized (and sometimes just plain wrong) version we get in school or from historical monuments. I strongly agree, but some people are very uncomfortable with this view, as is clear from the other comments. He doesn't say our Founding Fathers were "despicable", merely that they were human beings with human flaws - some of them large. For example, he has a lot of good things to say about Thomas Jefferson, but it's a pretty serious omission to sweep the fact that he owned slaves under the rug. If you want to hear only good things about our major historical figures, do yourself a favor and *do not read this book*.
He does have a serious axe to grind with the South, but remember he's competing with books like "Slavery: as it was", which is still trying to paint an idyllic picture of black simpletons who really preferred being slaves (read some of the glowing reviews *that* book gets). We would probably complain if Germany still had monuments to Nazis, yet the South has many monuments vicious and outspoken racists.Read more ›
Anyone who dismisses this as a "doctoral dissertation" from someone in an "ivory tower" hasn't read any dissertations, trust me. These are funny, chatty, entertaining books. (This one in particular is a great browse, because it's broken cleanly into sections about individual monuments.) Loewen's voice is perfect for this tone and subject, not in any way affected or studied; he's a likeable author, and these are enjoyable books.
Loewen's overarching theme is that history would be a much more vital, constructive force in American life if Americans were actually exposed to its true breadth and depth. Loewen makes many impassioned appeals to primary sources, to the voices and sentiments of actual participants. He gets at those basic themes in a nicely straightforward, common-sensical way -- by comparing primary sources to the schlock we're given in their place. For my money, the humor and pathos, the melancholy irony, in that comparison is a breath of fresh air. Lies My Teacher Told Me used a comparison of several high school textbooks as its departure point. Here Loewen begins by examining historical markers, asking whether each does an adequate job of describing the history it's meant to include.Read more ›
After I had read him perhaps two dozen of the ninety-five essays in this book, my friend had no significant criticisms: Loewen correctly identifies not only those areas where there is a difference of opinion among historians, but also where there is agreement among historians that differs with the popular imagination. Loewen also identifies the actual history behind each monument, both the history of the event commemorated and the history of the monument itself where appropriate. He distinguishes between markers which merely attempt to cloud the truth (essay 13, for example), those which blatantly contradict the truth (essay 62), and those which have no relationship to the truth but have instead been invented of whole cloth (essay 15). The book is an impressive piece of historical detective-work, even more so when one considers that the history involved covers nearly the whole of the United States.
In the end, my friend enjoyed my 'preview' of Loewen's book enough so that he went out and purchased the hardcover. I already had. The book really is that good.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book does a great job of discussing some of monument and memorials in America that probably should be destroyed. I think it was a pretty thought provoking read. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Mudasar Khan
Great book. Makes me really think about historical sites and how who erects and pays for monuments and markers influences what they say or how they say it. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amy McLaughlin
This is on my personal list of super important books. It discusses actual history versus the American Mythology we were taught as history in school, and it's a revelation! Read morePublished 8 months ago by Lizzy