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Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong Paperback – October 16, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Loewen's politically correct critique of 12 American history textbooks—including The American Pageant by Thomas A. Bailey and David M. Kennedy; and Triumph of the American Nation by Paul Lewis Todd and Merle Curti—is sure to please liberals and infuriate conservatives. In condemning the way history is taught, he indicts everyone involved in the enterprise: authors, publishers, adoption committees, parents and teachers. Loewen (Mississippi: Conflict and Change) argues that the bland, Eurocentric treatment of history bores most elementary and high school students, who also find it irrelevant to their lives. To make learning more compelling, Loewen urges authors, publishers and teachers to highlight the drama inherent in history by presenting students with different viewpoints and stressing that history is an ongoing process, not merely a collection of—often misleading—factoids. Readers interested in history, whether liberal or conservative, professional or layperson, will find food for thought here. Illustrated.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
When textbook gaffes make news, as with the tome that explained that the Korean War ended when Truman dropped the atom bomb, the expeditious remedy would be to fire the editor. Loewen would rather hire a new team of authors bent on the pursuit of context instead of factoids. In Loewen's ideal text, events and people illuminating the multicultural holy trinity of race, gender, and social class would predominate over the fixation on heroes and acts of government. Such is the mood adopted throughout this critique of 12 American history texts in current use. Vetting 10 topics they commonly address--from the Pilgrims to the Vietnam War--Loewen bewails a long train of alleged omissions and distortions. To account for the deplorable situation, he offers this quasi-Marxist explanation: "Perhaps we are all dupes, manipulated by elite white male capitalists who orchestrate how history is written as part of their scheme to perpetuate their own power and privilege at the expense of the rest of us." Certainly students' appalling ignorance of history is troublesome, and broken families and excessive TV viewing are at least the equals of white male conspirators as the cause. However, libraries located where dissatisfaction with textbooks exists should be interested in Loewen's critique. Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Lies My Teacher Told Me examines dozens of falsehoods and inaccuracies common to current textbooks. It's a valuable study of the field for teachers, parents, and students, however I cannot rate it more highly because the unrelenting tone of scolding made it exhausting to finish.
Of course there are the quibblers who try to impose different sets of "facts" to show this book is "wrong." That's a bit like a prominent candidate for President who declares victory when he suffers a loss.
Of equal value with the rearranged or corrected "facts" of American history, Mr. Loewen shows HOW we learned our history askew, WHY our history textbooks are distorted, and WHO steered the ship of textbook approval and purchasing. Now there's an eye-opener. It's what changed my approach to consuming "history."
Since this book appeared in 1995, Mr. Loewen published at least eight more books that take issue with well-learned "history" that just does not square with facts. He does ask a lot. He asks that we, individually, take responsibility for the "history" we use as the foundation for decisions. To adjust one's views when much-loved "facts" are shown to be misconstrued or just plain wrong is hard. It takes courage. Think of this adjustment as a test of character.
You can easily find other books by Mr. Loewen on Amazon, such as Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism.
Nearly 1,300 reviews have already been posted for this book. Still, I hope you find something here was helpful for you.
I can't say I didn't suspect considering what I have seen myself but this is based in hard fact analysis across the board and the thesis is so well substantiated that some education boards should start to blush and have burning ears.
I was suspecting the author would exhibit a clear liberal bias but not so - this book does not seem to be slanted either way, it just compares known historic facts with the way they are depicted in various text books.