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Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong
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Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  1,745 Ratings  ·  117 Reviews
"In Lies Across America," James W. Loewen continues his mission, begun in the award-winning "Lies My Teacher Told Me," of overturning the myths and misinformation that too often pass for American history. "Lies Across America" is a one-of-a-kind examination of sites all over the country where history is literally written on the landscape, including historical markers, monu ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published November 14th 2000 by Touchstone (first published 1999)
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Aug 08, 2012 Mike rated it it was ok
Lies of omission would be a better title.

I found this book to be a little disappointing. Perhaps it's my fault for misinterpreting the subject matter. I had assumed it dealt with information that was undeniably wrong or untrue. Presenting things inaccurate in fact rather than too concise or limited in scope.

The majority of the entries are not so much out and out "lies" as they are lies of omission or representative of events the author feels are insufficiently recognized. An example of the latt
Nov 06, 2007 Jason rated it it was amazing
Lies Across America: What our Historic Sites Get Wrong is an excellent book by James Loewen. He starts first with the western half of the United States since most history textbooks start with the eastern side. All of the information about historical markers is broken up into small sections for easy reading. Loewen proceeds to give state-by-state accounts of historical markers and their errors or in some cases their silliness. Many of the markers honor people as heroes who were in fact overt raci ...more
Dec 10, 2008 William rated it really liked it
This book can't possibly be for everybody...I, in fact, started out hating it... too repetitious, too dense, way too many footnotes and as an African American, too little of any new revelations...American history is racist so why should its markers and monuments be any different? But as I read I became fascinated with the history and minutiae that's slowly revealed. Much of it local and passed by unnoticed by me for years (A statue honoring a founder of the KKK in Judiciary Square in majority Bl ...more
Nov 21, 2008 Charley rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
This book actually deserves no stars or a minus star. James W. Loewen obviously has an extreme amount of guilt from being a "White, European-American Male" as his entire book speaks of nothing other than mistreatment and degradation of blacks, native Americans and women to the aggrandizing of WASP American males. The one monument he finds accurate and correct is actually wrong in its interpreting of the facts. The author was a professor at U of VT. He and his ilk are what is wrong with our colle ...more
Harry Klinkhamer
Feb 03, 2012 Harry Klinkhamer rated it did not like it
I'm sorry, but Loewen's scathing attacks on history organizations for failing to preserve and interpret a more open and progressive past fails to take into account the restrictions placed on many organiations to do that. I worked for one of the organizations that was criticized in this book and take offense at his remarks that we failed to adequately preserve women's history in our state markers program. Markers are placed when a private source funds them, so if Mr. Loewen is that upset, he shou ...more
May 15, 2013 Nathaniel rated it it was ok
I'm a librarian with archival training who has known several people who worked in public history, including the head of the Indiana Historical Bureau (which produces every historic marker in that state) and actually understands public history as a professional field. And this book is proof that James W. Loewen, while an adequate, if revisionist, historian in the academy, is completely out of his element where something like this is concerned. When Loewen is writing about history itself, his rese ...more
Oct 22, 2014 Cheryl rated it really liked it
A fascinating book that managed to teach me as much about history as about sociology. I am a "collector" of historical markers and belong to a group of crazy people who do the same thing (one of whom passed this book along to me). So I found it educational and a good reminder to take into consideration the people who erected the monuments and markers, the people who fight the most flagrantly incorrect and insensitive markers being removed or corrected, and the people who bankroll museums and suc ...more
Oct 13, 2011 Linda rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fic
Published in 1999, Lies Across America contains 100 brief essays about the mistakes and misrepresentations that abound across the US on roadside history markers. First there are the blatant deceptions: Consider, for example, that The Native American tribe known today as the Delawares had that name foisted upon them by Europeans; its members referred to themselves as Lenape, which means "we are the people". In Kentucky, the log cabin said to be the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln was built 30 years ...more
Aug 23, 2007 Mark rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all Americans
Shelves: non-fiction
Awesome book. If you've ever wondered what America really looks like to other countries, this is the book for you. Loewen chose over 100 historic sites/museums/markers to dispel the myths of. Some are more surprising than others, but all of them are interesting. So much that I didn't know about our country. Not everything in the past is as rosy as our government would have us believe. And if we would only learn about these blemishes on our past, then we could learn from them and not repeat them. ...more
Aug 24, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it
I’ll bet the United Daughters of the Confederacy didn’t love this book. I will say that I didn’t love it either – though certainly not for the same reasons. As something of a follow up to his investigation into the dismal state of public school US History textbooks, Loewen sets his sights on the questionable state of monuments, markers, and historical plaques scattered throughout the US. It’s a valiant effort, and certainly makes for a clear thesis about how misinterpretations and misinformation ...more
Frederick Bingham
Jan 01, 2012 Frederick Bingham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about public monuments and the stories they tell. Many public monuments, historic sights, roadside plaques, etc. tell an inaccurate or biased story. The author has gone through a number of these and described what the monument got wrong.For example, in Scottsboro Alabama, the most important event ever to have happened there was the trial of the Scottsboro Boys in 1931-39. The town has several historic plaques in its central square, but nothing about that case.This is very much a pro ...more
Oct 14, 2009 Amy marked it as not-going-to-finish
When I was in high school, I needed books like this. I knew just enough to be dangerous and books like Lies My Teacher Told Me challenged some of my preconceived notions. Even if I didn't always agree, I learned something and it brought me down a peg.
However. Now that I'm older and (I like to think) wiser, I have put aside teenage angst and entitlement.
And maybe it is about time Mr. Loewen does too.
I've tried getting into this book, and I do think it contains a lot of good points. But I think
Aug 14, 2007 Gwen rated it liked it
This book sort of bored me. I didn't like it as much as his other book, Lies My Teacher Told Me. I think I'd like it more as a travel guide to read before I visit any of these places. I enjoyed reading the sections on states I've lived in or know a lot about (and finding out my home state, Oklahoma, has, in his opinion, the single worst museum presentation in the U.S.). I'm sure when I travel to other states I'll want to read the sections relating to them. It's just a little repetitive to read s ...more
Oct 21, 2014 melydia rated it it was amazing
As an avid landmark snarfer, you can imagine my excitement at finding this book on what our historical markers, memorials, and monuments get wrong - and, occasionally, right. Some of it made me very sad. After all, much of American history can be summarized as "white people ruin everything," but there were some bright spots. And some very funny ones, like the woman in Indiana who is only remembered for moving there sans a body part. It certainly opened my eyes when reading markers and visiting m ...more
Apr 23, 2016 Kate rated it it was amazing
This is an extremely valuable resource for anyone who enjoys visiting historical sites, because Loewen fills in the unstated or insufficiently interpreted "facts" depicted in a number of these locales. Read up on your local sites or on places you intend to visit, and see them more fully.

Personally, I wouldn't sit down with this book and read straight through, because it IS a book of intensely felt criticism, and as such could leave a reader feeling a bit overwhelmed and gloomy. Keep a copy of "A
Aug 05, 2012 Dan rated it it was ok
Once again, only concerned with race. From time to time he omits parts of the story himself, to boost his own point (for example mentioning that labor leader Joe Hill was executed, but never mentioning why, implying it was for his views. Nope - murder). I wanted history, not whining preaching. Disappointing.
Hunter McCleary
Feb 06, 2017 Hunter McCleary rated it really liked it
It is a certainty that this volume is on the list of books banned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. I figured there was revisionist history going on but Loewen says you need to cast a skeptical eye at basically every roadside marker. Some of the conclusions one might take away from travelling American highways and byways: Europeans discovered everything. Markers generally make you feel good about what you see. He also makes you ask what markers might be missing. The best example is Lin ...more
Todd Stansbury
Jan 21, 2017 Todd Stansbury rated it it was amazing
This is, much like Loewen's other book "Lies My Teacher Told Me," is an exceptional read about some of the things wrong in the way that history is expressed in the United States. It makes me want to go out and take a deeper look at the historical markers that dot the landscape around me. Sometimes the work can be depressing; no surprise, true history can often have that affect; but these are conversations that need to be had. Strange quibble about it, I would have moved the appendix about why th ...more
Jan 28, 2017 Kim rated it liked it
I had mixed feelings about this book. It was interesting and so much research went into telling the actual history of these places that are so often visited in our country and patrons end up leaving without the truth. It was like reading short essays about each state and therefore made the flow kind of awkward. I love 'Lies My Teacher Told Me' and was slightly disappointed that this book didn't quite capture the same magic for me.
Steven Elliott
Nov 23, 2016 Steven Elliott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolute joy from beginning to end. Funny, heartbreaking and frustrating, Loewen's book of historically wrong markers and historic sites across America is solid right to the end. He not only provides the facts about markers and what needs to be changed but he ends with a push for us as lovers of history and truth to make these changes.
Jul 30, 2014 Samuel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like its predecessor (LIES MY TEACHER TOLD ME), James W. Loewen's LIES ACROSS AMERICA critiques the way Americans chronicle and present their history but this time he takes particular aim at historic markers, monuments, and places. Though at times the arguments lambasting statues of undeserving men and otherwise critiquing the uncritical marker texts tend to be somewhat redundant, the sites he selects and their accompanying histories are quite interesting. I found the story behind the neo-Confed ...more
Chris Demer
Jan 20, 2013 Chris Demer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, expose
This was an excellent book and I found out about a lot of history I was vague about, or had never heard of.
Among the interesting facts I recall:
Many American places, rivers, mountains, lakes, etc were "discovered" by Europeans and named by them, even though Natives Americans had discovered them centuries or millenia ago and already had names for them.
The racism and atrocities perpetrated against the Native Americans and African Americans was far more evil and pervasive than anything you will fin
Timothy Riley
Aug 05, 2012 Timothy Riley rated it it was amazing
This book could be used in conjunction with a US high school history textbook. It covers almost everything that isn't covered normally. I loved how he focused on the South and their deification of the Confederacy. I am also sick of this glorification. It left me thinking the North probably would have been better off if they just let the Southern states secede and go their own way. To this day the Daughters of the Confederacy dominate the telling of history in the South. By putting up i
Kelsey Dangelo
Dec 15, 2014 Kelsey Dangelo rated it it was amazing
The author of Lies My Teacher Told Me, an analysis of American history books and their lack of history and critical thinking, turns his attention to the historic sites across America, what they celebrate, and what they don’t. Loewen begins his book with a series of essays on the issues raised by raising (or razing) monuments and historic sites, particularly as a study of the sociology and history of the times they are both meant to immortalize and the times that created these monuments, and, mos ...more
Dec 31, 2014 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Having read Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong I thought that he only had one thud of a book. But after reading this book to see more clearer his perspective on the matters, I believed that that thought was completely wrong. Although the subject matter changed a little(and I was surely impressed with this), I still wasn't impressed with his book. In this book, he's still very wordy and he scared me off several times (to read other books). After putting m ...more
Nanette Bulebosh
Feb 11, 2010 Nanette Bulebosh rated it really liked it
James Loewen is best known for his breakthrough "Lies My Teacher Told Me," a scathing attack on traditional history textbooks for their superficial, nationalist, pro-imperialist views. It's fine to teach students about all the great accomplishments of the courageous people who built this country, he argues. But we're doing them, and our ancestors, a disservice if we fail to also identify how and where we went wrong.

This newer book focuses on the many historic sites (such as the plaques that tell
I am a big fan of Loewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me, and I found his Sundown Towns to be fascinating and educational, so when I found Lies Across America in a used bookstore, it seemed like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, Loewen’s style is not well suited to the short-entry format of this book. His attempt to criticise at least one marker or monument in every state means that many entries come out petty and nitpicking. Some of his demands get downright ludicrous. For instance, he joins a tour for el ...more
Toto Maya
Nov 07, 2012 Toto Maya rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I first read this book years ago when I picked it up on a whim inside of a book store. I thought I might learn a few interesting facts as well as some history from it. What I got from the book, however, was a book that challenged what I thought I knew about the world, what I believed about the United States, and ultimately sharpened my critical thinking skills beyond what I thought they could be.

We are generally taught to believe what is in front of us, that if a monument says what happened ther
Nov 05, 2008 Kelly rated it it was ok
I mostly skimmed this one. Like all historians, Loewen has the true story and this book is that story. While certainly I know what he's done is grounded in good research and takes into account how everything America celebrates is Eurocentric, he's frustrating. I love reading the "true" stories behind issues, particularly with public history, but I really hate when it becomes a book that condemns European culture or the attempts to make history public (regardless of how wrong, isn't it at least a ...more
John Betts
Jan 15, 2013 John Betts rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Just finished reading this interesting book which looks at about a hundred historic markers and sites across the country and examines the accuracy of what they tell the public. The author makes a compelling case that many of these sites do a poor job but his obvious bias detracts from this work and comes across as a partisan ideologue in some of it. While my own personal experience at some of these sites leads me to believe that they do indeed do a mediocre to poor job as custodians of our histo ...more
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“Or guides might initiate a discussion of slave names. Many owners insisted on the right to name their newborn slaves—rather than allowing their parents this pleasure—and then deliberately gave them demeaning names or names that ironically invoked godlike figures from antiquity. George Washington, for instance, used Hercules, Paris-boy, Sambo, Sucky, Flukey, Doll, Suck Bass, Caesar, and Cupid. Most slaves received no last names. Guides could ask visitors to imagine the self-respect of black children under these conditions.” 2 likes
“what a community erects on its historical landscape not only sums up its view of the past but also influences its possible futures.” 2 likes
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