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Publisher's Summary

"Every teacher, every student of history, every citizen should read this book. It is both a refreshing antidote to what has passed for history in our educational system and a one-volume education in itself." (Howard Zinn)

A new edition of the national best seller and American Book Award winner, with a new preface by the author

Since its first publication in 1995, Lies My Teacher Told Me has become one of the most important - and successful - history books of our time. Having sold nearly two million copies, the book also won an American Book Award and the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship and was heralded on the front page of the New York Times in the summer of 2006. 

For this new edition, Loewen has added a new preface that shows how inadequate history courses in high school help produce adult Americans who think Donald Trump can solve their problems, and calls out academic historians for abandoning the concept of truth in a misguided effort to be "objective". What started out as a survey of the 12 leading American history textbooks has ended up being what the San Francisco Chronicle calls "an extremely convincing plea for truth in education". 

In Lies My Teacher Told Me, James W. Loewen brings history alive in all its complexity and ambiguity. Beginning with pre-Columbian history and ranging over characters and events as diverse as Reconstruction, Helen Keller, the first Thanksgiving, the My Lai massacre, 9/11, and the Iraq War, Loewen offers an eye-opening critique of existing textbooks, and a wonderful retelling of American history as it should - and could - be taught to American students.

©2018 James W. Loewen (P)2019 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Lies My Teacher Told Me, 2nd Edition

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Annoying Narration, Valid Points

The narration of this book is annoying to listen to. The narrator sounds whiny and snooty. Having taught from one of the history books the author critiques, I can see some of his points. However, he has little understanding about teaching students younger than college-aged. He seems surprised that his college freshman don't think like history majors. High school is an overview of many subjects. By the time a student is a college senior, majoring in history, he can expect them to have the insights he expects from them. Some of his points about what is left out of history texts and the slant of the publishers is valid. A good high school teacher should be knowledgeable and well read so he or she can teach students to think critically.

10 people found this helpful

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Brent

the author cherry picks what information he wants you to have while pointing out in the form of chastising that the publishers of other books do the same. if he is our teacher then he is just as guilty as his book title is. for example he quotes, " The United States is more generous than any other nation in the world at providing foreign aid" The author claims this is not true and then goes on to state that "At least 20 European and Arab nations provide much larger percentage of GDP towards foreign aid Than does the United States." he is misleading the reader by taking it upon himself to (re)define what "generosity" is. The US may vary well give many times more than all other countries combined but you wouldn't know this by how he words his argument.
In chapter 12 the author is again guilty of hypocrisy when he states that "Text books rairly present the various sides of historical contriversies. And almost never reveal to students the evidence on which each side basis its position." he does a good job at providing historical accouts of Columbus and general American history but throws unfounded accusations of the soldiers that fought at the battle of the Alamo
were somehow fighting for the state rights to maintain slavery... has he never heard of "come and take it"? the Alamo fell 25 years before the Civil War took place and was its own independent country for 9 years befor it became a state. over all I found it difficult to finish the book because of the bias shown by the author. he would be a fun guy to have a conversation and maybe a beer with though.

6 people found this helpful

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more like reasons for the lies my teacher taughtme

I graduated high school in 2007, meaning that this book influenced my history books heavily. so much so that, although I believe that he is referencing real history books, his arguments seem like many straw man arguments when compared to the history I learned.

for example, I learned that the cherokees had a written language and used this as their primary argument to win over the supreme court before their betrayal resulting in the trail of tears. just as stated on this book. however, it wasn't until visiting the trail of tears museum that I learned that their written language was only 30 years old at the time of the trail of tears and written almost exclusively with western characters.

or, while I agree that we shouldn't put historic figures on a pedestal, nor should we compare them out of the context of their own time. yes Christopher columbus enslaved the native people's of america on his second trip, but he didn't bring slavery to America. native americans never got around to inventing the wheel but they got around to buying and selling human beings, just like everyone else at the time.

this book was probably necessary in its time. if the books he referenced were a true sampling, then they left a lot of history out while emblemishing quite a bit more.
though, now, almost all of what he feels history books left out, I learned about.

this is more of an opinion piece than a history book and it reads like it. when you can hear the 7 "o's" in the word "boooooring" it makes it hard to take seriously. though I'll give him credit where is due. history is an interpretation of the facts we have from the time (I also learned that in high school history). but don't be surprised when he'll spend a whole chapter making a point, then contradict it in a short paragraph and then conclude that the contradiction wasn't important.

his strong bias aside, I would have rated the book higher if not for the last chapter where he explains that the illuminati control textbook publishing. at this point he goes from a professor trying to act cool so he can connect to students (who are only in his class because it's a requirement), to your crazy uncle a few beers in at Thanksgiving.

5 people found this helpful

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Game changer ! A must read to start reprogramming

So much of what we were taught in school history classes were exaggerations, half truths, or all out LIES! This book reveals the misdirection in an easy to understand way. It’s too much to process it n one read so long term study will happen with this awesome resource. Thank-you is all I can say. If you’re on the fence, get this book!!!

10 people found this helpful

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A truly eye opening experience

So nice to know I wasn't crazy for thinking I was being lied to by the adults I grew up with!

4 people found this helpful

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Narrator is not great.

First half of the book is descent with history. Second half is mostly whining that America sucks. Narrator didn’t seem to have pre-read the text. Consistently failing to emphasize the right words and has a very annoying and condescending voice - I don’t think the author would come across this way if you spoke to him. Worth a listen if you don’t have anything better to do.

4 people found this helpful

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garbage

this is a bunch of liberal garbage
a total waste of my time and money

3 people found this helpful

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Second edition worth the read

I enjoyed the first time I read this book! It made me delve deeper into the story of American history which is especially relevant to me because I am an immigrant, as is my husband. But the second reading is even more relevant especially after a year of introspection because of COVID-19.

2 people found this helpful

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Every American must read this!!

Wow! I wish Dr Loewe was my history teacher! I had read Roots before my high school history class, and was appalled by the white washing of slavery. In retrospect, I think the class should be more appropriately “ white man worship and his wars”. It was tedious and dull. I would have loved a sociological lens, and one that told us more about our diversity. I had to learn about Asian American history and all thdd we interesting stuff on my own.

I’m very grateful for Dr Loren for writing this important book. Clearly it was a monumental effort. And so insightful! We as a country can only get better if we are willing to see the reality of our past, and learn from our mistakes.

2 people found this helpful

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Satisfyingly Revealing if Frustratingly Slanted

The author asserts that history textbooks should not just be memorized and accepted, but also reviewed, critiqued, discussed and challenged. Indeed, the book itself is a perfect candidate for the process it proposes.

I found the forward and early chapters of this book to be powerful and informative. The author reveals a number of fascinating, amazing, and critically important facts about our nation's early history that textbooks often overlook. His sections on pre-colonial history through the Civil War were particularly enlightening. He makes a convincing argument criticizing the current narrative tone of textbooks which remains bland and boring. He makes a strong case that textbooks should look at the past more dynamically and also spend more time contrasting it to the present so that it feels more relevant. He asks that we abandon stale narratives like heroification and unimpeded progress. In short, he prompts us to ask critical questions of the past and dynamically relate them to the present.

My primary criticism centers on the tonal objectivity of the author, particularly in the latter sections. Midway through the book that the text begins to feel increasingly politicized and slanted to frame the author's opinion. While the facts may indeed be true, the questions he's asking are politically biased. As he carries the narrative past near-modern history and beyond, the text reads less like history and more like a political editorial; at this point it begins to feel like he's over-reaching.

Despite its occasional preachyness, I do still recommend reading this book. in addition to revealing absolutely fascinating stories about American history, it challenges the way the US teaches and understands it. It plants great seeds for discussion and debate so I highly recommend reading it with a friend or book club.

2 people found this helpful