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

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee @ It’s Book Talk. This meme is an awesome way to share old favorites that were published over a year ago or even books that you’re finally reading after much time has passed. I have plenty of those to share! If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, and you’re welcome to use Renee’s pic as well. Please link back to her by using the link above.

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This Week’s Pick:

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong



Americans have lost touch with their history, and in Lies My Teacher Told Me Professor James Loewen shows why. After surveying eighteen leading high school American history texts, he has concluded that not one does a decent job of making history interesting or memorable. Marred by an embarrassing combination of blind patriotism, mindless optimism, sheer misinformation, and outright lies, these books omit almost all the ambiguity, passion, conflict, and drama from our past.

In this revised edition, packed with updated material, Loewen explores how historical myths continue to be perpetuated in today’s climate and adds an eye-opening chapter on the lies surrounding 9/11 and the Iraq War. From the truth about Columbus’s historic voyages to an honest evaluation of our national leaders, Loewen revives our history, restoring the vitality and relevance it truly possesses.

Thought provoking, nonpartisan, and often shocking, Loewen unveils the real America in this iconoclastic classic beloved by high school teachers, history buffs, and enlightened citizens across the country.

My thoughts on this book:

I had to take a sociology course when I was in college and had a genuinely interesting professor. He’s one that I won’t ever forget and still think about from time to time. He was the type of teacher that made learning interesting and it was a class I actually enjoyed going to. Anyhow, he gave us a recommended reading list of books he thought we should take a look at. None of them were mandatory, but I read them all. This is one of those books.

I was never really interested in learning history when I was in grade school, not even American History. Many of the historical events in American History that I did learn about in school–according to the author of this book–were inaccurate. This book made me feel quite ignorant after reading it. For example, as a child we were taught that Columbus was a great explorer who discovered America, not one that initiated cruel policies and killed people. I discussed some of it with my grandfather who was also a teacher of many subjects and some of it he did agree with, while some he wasn’t totally sure about. Ironically, my children’s 3rd grade history text is still teaching the people and events in American History the same way by withholding truth.

The section that discusses why history hasn’t been taught correctly is thought-provoking. The author brings to question why American History has been basically dumbed-down with very simplified requirements as to what we needed to learn to just pass the tests. Could this be why so many don’t enjoy learning American History? Could it be why many can’t retain it? It was an eye-opening book for me and I still keep it on my shelf for reference. Although controversial, I think it’s a book worth reading, especially if you have an interest in history.

My rating on this is: 5*****

Get this on Amazon or find it on Goodreads
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1 edition (September 3, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684818868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684818863

 More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere…

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Lynne at Fictionophile

Annie at The Misstery

Cathy at Between the Lines

Amy at Novel Gossip

Diana at A Haven for Booklovers

Laurie at Cozy Nook Books

Ann Marie at LItWitWineDine

Laura at Snazzy Books

Nina at The Cozy Pages

Virginia at Rose Point Publishing

Thanks for checking out today’s Throwback Thursday. Do you have some throwbacks to share? Please feel free to comment below with thoughts or suggestions. 😁

14 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen

  1. I use parts of this book in my classes as well. I usually use it when talking to my students about perspectives and how perspective colours our views of historical events and how those same historical events are recorded by people sometimes affected by their own biases, even if unintentional. By the time they get to my Latin American History classes though, their generally pretty well-informed about the truth behind Columbus. Lol.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Nel

    Oh yes. I’ve had a great dose of this growing up because even something as powerful as slavery and Civil Rights is told completely wrong. That’s another wonderful thing about technology these days cause you get to get the back story on these types of things that they don’t teach in schools. I think American History texts don’t want to report the truth cause it’s probably too sensitive of a topic and the reactions it would cause would be varying extremes. Remember how you and I were talking about ignorance being bliss? This is one of those examples. If you don’t know the real story, then it’s easy to shrug it off and say we should just forget because it was the past instead of examining its evolved form in the present. Okay, let me stop now before I go on a rant, haha. GREAT throwback share!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Reader Confession Tag – mistysbookspace

  4. My son recommended this one to me. I already read (at his insistence) A People’s History of the United States and The Shock Doctrine. MIND.BLOWN. This one is next, but I have to insert a little YA fantasy in between my distress. 😨

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I read that one too, Bonnie! Took me some time. It was part of my son’s high school history curriculum. I did enjoy it. I would love to hear your thoughts on this one! Please share your thoughts with me after! 💙💜💙


  5. I’ve not read this one, but I have discussed it with one of the history professors on campus since my minor degree is in history, and he knows how much I LOVE history-fascinating book that I definitely plan in reading! Great review! 🙂

    When I was in college getting my degree, I was blown away by what we learned and how it was different than what we were taught in elementary to high school. I love how the truth has been perverted one way to make a group of people look bad when that is not the truth at all. It’s very sad that history books today are still full of lies. When Kayley came home on Columbus Day telling me how he discovered the New World, etc, I was like yeah, and he and the other explorers came over her and killed almost 6 million Native people by either giving them diseases they had no immunity from, enslaving them, or killing them…it was not the picture of a hero your teacher taught you. She of course went and told her teacher, who called me, and I was like- oh well, I’m not lying to my 7 yr old about historical events because you want to paint some man as a hero when his actions decimated and devastated an entire continent.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this one Stephanie. It is crazy! I mean, I get that some of it wouldn’t be shared in grade school due to some of the subject matter, but I don’t even feel like I learned enough about the Holocaust in HS truly. I was shocked at all I didn’t know in my college history courses compared to some other students.

      Honestly, my childrens’ history is the same. It doesn’t tell all of the truth either. I’m sort of up in the air with it and just hope to keep them a little more well informed if you know what I mean. 💜 I’m surprised her teacher would call you. That had to be interesting! 😉 Hope all is well. ❤😘


  6. starjustin

    I got an A+ in American History in 8th grade and can still remember with the testing, it was mostly memorization of facts that I am sure many were not even true now. This book sounds like a must read! I am interested especially in the 9/11 factor. Great post! Very interesting! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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