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Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong
by James W. Loewen

James W. Loewen Is...

High school students hate history. When they list their favorite subjects, history always comes in last. They consider it the most irrelevant of twenty-one school subjects; bo-o-o-oring is the adjective most often applied.

James Loewen spent two years at the Smithsonian Institute surveying twelve leading high school textbooks of American History. What he found was an embarrassing amalgam of bland optimism, blind patriotism, and misinformation pure and simple, weighing in at an average of four-and-a-half pounds and 888 pages.

In response, he has written Lies My Teacher Told Me, in part a telling critique of existing books but, more importantly, a wonderful retelling of American history as it should - and could - be taught to American students. Beginning with pre-Columbian American history and ranging over characters and events as diverse as Reconstruction, Helen Keller, the first Thanksgiving, and the My Lai massacre, Loewen supplies the conflict, suspense, unresolved drama, and connection with current-day issues so appallingly missing from textbook accounts.

A treat to read and a serious critique of American education, Lies My Teacher Told Me is for anyone who has ever fallen asleep in history class.


Samples from Lies My Teacher Told Me

Read the Introduction

Read the Table of Contents


Teaching the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War

Using Confederate Documents to Teach About Secession, Slavery, and the Origins of the Civil War

5 Myths about Why the South Seceded

The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader

Loewen Reviews an Art Exhibit that Gets it Wrong

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Resources For Lies My Teacher Told Me

A wiki supplement to Lies My Teacher Told Me with many good questions, videos, and other resources for teachers.

History Through Red Eyes: A Conversation with James Loewen [PDK International]

Restoring the Past Lecture by Dick Parsons, Columbia University [Lecture]

Columbus Day holiday arrives on stormy historical waters [CNN News Story]

Preface for Chinese Edition of Lies My Teacher Told Me proves too hot for Chinese publisher to handle.

Sam Wineburg, Abby Reisman, and the Stanford History Education Group: Reading Like a Historian.


Readers and Critics Respond to Lies My Teacher Told Me

Every teacher, every student of history, every citizen should read this book." -- Howard Zinn, Professor Emeritus, Boston University.

Read More Comments Here


Lies My Teacher Told Me Awards

1996 American Book Award: The American Book Awards were created by the Before Columbus Foundation seventeen years ago to provide recognition for outstanding literary achievement from the entire spectrum of America's diverse literary community. The awards recognize literary excellence without limitation to categories, quotas, or other restrictions.

Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship: The Oliver Cromwell Cox Award is made by the Section on Racial and Ethnic Relations of the American Sociological Association.

AESA Critics' Choice Award: Each year, a panel of AESA members selects a number of titles it regards as outstanding books of interest to those in educational studies, broadly defined.

This site was created by Matt Cheney and is copyrighted by James W. Loewen 1997-2010.