©2004 James M. Loewen; (P)2004 Recorded Books
As a recent immigrated Taiwanese South African to USA, I could not understand why everybody (especially African Americans/Europeam Americans)are so obsessed with Race relations, this course explained it to me forcibly. I think Ethnocentrism is a danger to American mind, when my African American co-worker jokingly accused me of "racism" when I greeted her with "Yo", I hesitated to explain to her in Taiwanese schools and millitary, "Yo" was a standard reply as in "Yes Sir"...
In this book Dr. Loewen takes a look at the some of the major conflicting issues in our most commonly re-told histories of the USA. His choice of historical material touched on many of the taboo subject other history courses seem to skim over, yet fit into the limit of 8 hours The Modern Scholar series seems to have. You can tell that Dr. Loewen takes pride in his work and enjoys talking about it, which adds to the enjoyment of the listener. In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed re-looking at the history of the USA with a slightly different, perhaps less bias view. I have not checked his references, so I hope we can take his word for it.
So why the 4 star review? Chapter 13, his last chapter, did not seem as organized or as focused as the others. His overall premise is sold, just the choice of words and stories were not effective, I felt. I would give a 4.5 if I could for this small complaint.
The title gets one star just for its iconoclasm. The biggest flaw is obvious. The lecture is looking to do a rewrite of American history starting with prehistory and the introduction of H. Sapiens to the continent. There's just no way that the lecture can provide sufficient detail on any one point. But this is information you (probably) don't know, and these are ideas you need to be thinking about. It's an important rewrite, and if you don't think you need it, the more likely it is that you do.I greatly disagree with some of the author's larger conclusions, but there are some vitally interesting facts in there that every good citizen should know.
The Modern Scholar series lives and dies with the strength of the lecturer, and James Loewen stands out for the sheer enthusiasm he brings to the table. He is passionate and articulate, almost giving you the feeling that you're in class with him, and keeps the energy up throughout the entire 8 hours.
Loewen, akin to Howard Zinn, is often telling the history of the losers, and at times you get the feeling he is omitting a bit of info here and there, but overall the course is solid and up front in what it discusses. Much of the basis of the lecture is an extended talk on the development of racism in America, especially the little talked about "nadir period" that started around 1890.
Like "Lies My Teacher Told Me," Loewen's well regarded 1995 book on the many failures of textbooks in American schools, much of this lecture is devoted to countering long held notions taught in classrooms throughout US history.
Given Loewen's ability to keep the information he speaks about entertaining, and the overall quality of information contained in the course, the only letdown is he doesn't have any further Modern Scholar lectures available.
I think the concept of this book is very interesting and important ... there is a lot of false information in "official" histories, and we should question popular theories and be vigilant in seeking the truth. The author/professor provides some good information and analysis, and I thought some of the information he presents is interesting and thought provoking. Nonetheless, the book fell short in a few areas: 1) A lot of his revelations of truth are pretty old hat ... yes, we know that Columbus and the early English settlers treated the Native Americans horrifically, 2) The author seems to make the same mistakes as the historians he critiques ... for example he criticizes mainstream historians for projecting their own values, motives and personalities onto historical events, but the author himself does this throughout the book, and 3) He seems to want to re-write all history to reflect the current fads among college history professors ... he correctly points out that past historians have often succumbed to the prevailing mood of the time (i.e., the politically correct story) rather than the truth, but he seems to want to do the same thing now.
I am a huge fan of people who tell proper, truthful history. Much like Howard Zinn, Professor James W. Loewen is a master at telling us the truth about American history. Even better, he is very entertaining to listen to. I learned a plethora of incredible, amazing, and flabbergasting details about our history that I never even came close to getting in school. I wish every history teacher was like Professor Loewen. Everyone has to check out this audiobook!
Mother and catlover
Wow! I have never been much of a history buff, which may be why I really appreciate this book; I think I learned more about history here that I learned all the way through grade school and high school (in college there was no particular reason that I should have learned anything about history)(although I have learned more about history since then…). The standard things about Native Americans and the way our history is skewed when it comes to "American Indians" was pretty much expected, but there were a lot of details. And it was interesting to learn how many things with "learned about" that really never wore. And in the end, learning then thought "historical sites" nationwide for the most part are a farce! Unfortunately, to verify most of it, I need to read a lot more – which I will admit I am not inclined to do :-), but it is really interesting what one person can determine about our texts and curriculum through high school! If nothing else, it opens up a lot of questions!
As I said, I'm not much of a history person, but I think that I will eventually read/listen to "Lies My Teacher Told Me Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong" by the same author, for which I do already have the audio. But again, it will be "eventually", when I'm ready to steep myself in history some more :-)
non biased Facts
This book should be titled Black History. The whole history of the US is recast in how it pertains to blacks and racial issues. In the first chapter he references blacks/whites at least 100 times, claims that history books were written by white supremacist and the KKK, and then claims that when he asked a question of one of history classes as to what the reconstruction period was, 16 out of 17 said it was the period after the civil war when blacks took over the state governments, messed it all up, and then it had to be taken back over by whites to fix. Now if he had claimed that 16 students had said they had no idea what it was, that I would have believed. But to say 16 out of 17 made the previous statement gives you an idea of what sort of glasses he is wearing to interpret the facts.
As an example of one of the great pieces of legislation from this time he referenced the Homesteading act, which allowed people who went bankrupt to keep their home. I believe taking something without paying for it is the definition of stealing and I hardly think that the poor guy who lent the person the money to buy the house thought it was a great idea. But that sums it up. If this is the sort of statements you like, then this book is for you. Or if you are looking to root out some oppression from the past and recolor all of history with it, then you may like this book as well.
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
There are important lessons to be learned from this listen. Professor Loewen points out the distortions and biases of history books and their writers and illustrates well that "history is told by the victors." Students at all levels of learning should be reminded often that this is the case and that we need to be aware that our ancestors did not often act in ways we now believe to be just and fair.
This does not come as shocking news to much of anybody. And these lectures, informative as they may be, should be presented as what they are: a PC balance. That's not a bad thing certainly, but perhaps the professor should remind us occasionally that he also speaks with a bias and a set of values that have and may again alter with time and circumstance.
No, history books should not be taken as absolute truth, and we should definitely learn from the mistakes of the past. But we can't present ourselves and our current interpretation of events as the last word either. This, in other words, was not my favorite in the excellent "Modern Scholar" series.
These days we have more opinions than facts.
Just listen to republicans and their super hero larger than life Regan. They make up history as they go and society doesn't fact check. History is changed and rewritten by the media, the politicians and the ignorant.
I would like to see more books like this one.
James Loewen is an incredibly eye- and ear opening historian. It makes American history come alive, and tells us that not all things are as simple as they seem in high school (or even college) text books. I have listened to this twice already and will definitely listen to it again. If you buy only one thing from Audible this should be it! Highly recommended.
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