Andrew's Reviews > Lies My Teacher Told Me : Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong

Lies My Teacher Told Me  by James W. Loewen
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's review
Mar 31, 2008

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bookshelves: history
Recommended for: History Buffs
Read in March, 2008

This is a powerful attack on American history textbooks. The author hammers high school text book makers for falsehoods, overstating American's accomplishments, and shortchanging its sins. It is difficult to make a defense of American history textbooks and this book certainly has a good point.

The difficulty in reading this book is that is a very long list of negatives about the United States. While one can accept that the U.S. has not behaved well in many respects, it is equally untrue that the U.S. has done nothing positive.

The author argues for balance and thoughtfulness in the presentation of American history. Fair enough. If American history was solely presented as this book does, we would think our country is the worst ever to exist. Nevertheless, it makes an interesting read.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Dave I find this and similar comments disturbing. He isn't saying America hasn't done some great things. He is righting things the textbooks got wrong. It is well and fine to trumpet the goods our country has done, and that is taken care of by our textbooks. The problem is that they then turn things that the country did poorly into more trumpeting the goodness of the country. Also, isn't the fact that he is saying credit isn't given in the right place for things like the Civil Rights movement about stuff America's people did right, not necessarily America's government?

Randy I agree with Dave that the book can seemingly dwell on the bad precisely because that is what was left out of the textbooks - much of the United States' not model behavior. However, Loewen does point out that sometimes our better angels have also been omitted, such as Abraham Lincoln's personal struggle with racism and ultimate conclusion that all men were indeed created equal - he rejected the Crittenden Compromise and instructed Republican Congressmen not to support it either.

Marcie I agree with the above two comments, but I also wish to add that while this book brought to light some very negative things about our history, I actually felt better about being an American after reading it. The reasons are complicated, but in essence, I developed a whole new respect for some individuals from our past and also became inspired to do everything I can not to let us sink as low as we have in the past - to keep pushing upward. For the first time I felt a level of personal responsibility for our future. Also, knowing that those who came before us were flawed human beings helped me to redefine patriotism into something I could actually relate to. Just my two cents.

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