Jim's Reviews > Lies My Teacher Told Me

Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen
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's review
Jan 30, 2008

it was amazing
Read in January, 2008

This was a great book! The first two-thirds gives example after example of the many lies, omissions, and half-truths found in American high school history books, and the last third speculates why this has happened. Here's one example:

Almost everyone knew the world was round before 1492. Columbus's main reason for traveling to the new world to find gold, and he was responsible for killing, torturing and enslaving natives by the millions. Eight million in Haiti alone were reduced to 200 within 60 years - now seen as history's first documented genocide. Columbus practically invented genocide.

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 it more interesting 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.
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03/07 marked as: read

Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-12 of 12) </span> <span class="smallText">(12 new)</span>

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message 1: by Mendi (last edited Jan 02, 2010 10:34PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Mendi I dont know what school you went to but the THREE G's were taught to me
God, Glory and Gold. Gold I think was one of the main points here right??

message 2: by Darcy (new)

Darcy Stewart College students now no matter they are studying have to take a US History class. I looked it up.

message 3: by Don (new)

Don I'm Sorry but Columbus did not invent Genocide. In fact he might have gotten the idea from reading The Bible if he had access to the Old Testament in the 15th Century.

message 4: by Ashley (new) - added it

Ashley Dewey No they don't. I didn't take a history class.

message 5: by Darcy (new)

Darcy Stewart US History is NEW that pretty much everyone has to take. When did you graduate college.

message 6: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie In Texas, part of the core curriculum for all students graduating college is US History to 1877 and US History Since Reconstruction. I should know, I have a BA in history.

message 7: by Halema (new)

Halema Recently published data from the government signifies that U.S. learners aren't terribly good at studying American history. High school seniors were discovered in a recently introduced Department of Education examination of school performance to be less proficient in U.S. history than their counterparts in the 4th graders. Here is the proof: Most American students not proficient in American history

Stephanieg Also, I think it is important to mention that whether or not you are taking a course in history is not the point - as Mr. Loewen makes clear, false, misleading, or one-sided lessons about history permeate our classrooms.

message 9: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Anderson It's unlikely you will get white washed history in a college level course at a university. It's taught by historians. Historians don't become historians by learning a PC version of any cultures history. Not any good historians at least.

To clear up any misunderstanding, if you want a FOUR YEAR degree you must take history classes.

-says the girl finishing up her history degree...

message 10: by Peter (new)

Peter Wyndham American history being taught in primary schools has snow balled into the lie that has evolved into a life of its own. They can't correct it now. It's like you find out your sweetie has been cheating the whole time. It'll never be the same cause I don't trust when you say. I hope I'm rambling too much but the beginning of America lie can't be untold now..even if everyone knows it's a lie. Bill Clinton looked everyone in the eye, knowing that he was lying, and lied to us then so many of us applauded him for doing. It's madness lol where do you start when does it end

Odeaec What hogwash. All I leaned in classes in el and high school was that America was a terrible place ruled by ignorant and ruthless unprincipled white men. It took a significant amount of reading on my own time and a Masters in History in addition to living overseas to begin to understand the truth. And it's not this book- in fact this book is the lie that I was taught by some truly brainwashed educators! I think it's important to understand that during the last years of Rome, a campaign was pursued by the elite to reinforce the idea that any achievements of the empire were not valued or relevant and that philosophy contributed to its ultimate demise- and the worlds view of the empire until the Renaissance. It's unfortunate that so many are drawn in by this. It makes me pray that eventually the writers and supporters of this curriculum get what they want and we descend into war and poverty. That's the goal of this book- enjoy!

message 12: by Alexa (new) - added it

Alexa Columbus certainly did not intentionally introduce plagues to kill off the natives. While Europeans by then would have known that smallpox was contagious, for example, if CC *had* someone with smallpox among his sailors, they would have mostly died of it themselves. Of other diseases (like measles), modern germ theory was not developed until the late 1800s. The theory that the native Americans were even more susceptible due to less exposure to certain viruses and bacteria is far more recent than that. CC would not have known any of that.

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