Essay Example: Uncovering the Lies of American History Textbooks

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1366 Words
Date:  2023-01-29

Educational textbooks are considered the least exciting forms of literature materials currently. American history textbooks are placed at the top of the list of the least impressive reading materials since they neglect to include the complete information of the original situation. This can be described as a method of painting the United States in the bright light, and thus, the authors leave out information that may be detrimental to the image. The book "Lies My Teacher Told Me" was written by James William Loewen in 1995. Loewen is an American sociologist, an author, and professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Vermont. He was born in 1942 and raised in Decatur, Illinois by his mother Winfred and father David F. Loewen. Loewen's mother was a teacher and a librarian, and his father was a doctor. Loewen graduated as a national merit scholar from MacArthur High School in 1960. He joined Carleton College in 1963. He spent a semester in Mississippi after graduating where his experience with different cultures triggered his questioning on the teachings he received about the history of America. Loewen attained his Sociology Ph.D. from Harvard University. His most known book is "Lies My Teacher Told Me" that was published in 1995, and won the American Book Award. The paper shall critically analyze the book while clearly describing essential information observed in the book.

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Loewen tries to explain why history schoolbooks are hated at the beginning to open up the book. He makes an excellent point that these are boring and uses the claim as a launching pad to show that the only reason historical textbooks are boring is that they have omitted too much controversy and info, which eliminates the drama that once existed in the past events of America. However, Loewen starts by claiming that his book will right what has been held wrongly by the American history textbooks. He also states that the book will draw a new image of America and change people's perception of the country. Throughout the text, the book brings out some interesting facts that are uncommon or misinformed to the history students of recent times. Lowen proves to be hypocritical throughout the content of the book by laying down a more uninteresting account of American history. While making an honest attempt to bring forth some more interesting facts in history, it fails to compensate for how disordered the book is.

The first chapter of the book contains information about history deals with America's misrepresented beliefs about superficial American heroes. Loewen mainly focuses on Hellen Keller and Woodrow Wilson, where he provides less common facts about them, which may obstruct on their eminences as heroes. While informing his audience that Keller was a fundamental communist who supported the USSR and that Woodrow led many motiveless invasions of the Latin American countries, this information fascinating to discover (Loewen, 1995). Nevertheless, he continually jumps back and forth amid these heroes and their descriptions, making him fail to portray his message accurately, which sends his readers into a never-ending confusion which worsens with the progress of the book.

The next set of his claim on the disgrace of literature is two chapters which discuss the regularly debated myths of the first settlers in America. In one of the two chapters, Loewen attempts to bring an understanding of the conflict that surrounds Christopher Columbus and his ill-guided intents (Loewen, 1995). However, this is a common topic that has been disputed, and there was no need to use this information to heighten his claims. This is because the story of the famous Columbus exists in many historical videos and books that are available in libraries and archives. Therefore, students would have an enhanced understanding of the topic rather than being interested in this book and setting through all the redundant intricacies.

The other chapter of the two mentioned above continues after Columbus chronologically by bringing the topic of the first settlers in the country that is presently known as the United States. At the beginning of this chapter, Loewen claims to have probed college classes when the early settlers arrived in America, only to find out that the standard answer is 1620. Though many people indeed believe that the early settlers were the Pilgrims, Loewen must have been literary working in a remedial school to get such a collective unanimity about the first settlers. Such an unintelligent accord cannot be found everywhere. Therefore, Loewen thought the issue conspicuously enough as an issue to cultivate. He also brings out very vital information and makes good points in the mistaken text of history syllabuses.

However, the book deals with too much information that is already known in the United States. Loewen seems very biased against the people from the south, who he ostensibly considers less intelligent than those from the other parts of the country. In this case, he reveals many contentious and exciting topics that are at a little too widely identified to achieve the intentions of the book since he perceives the Southerners as ill-considered morons who know less than the rest of country (Loewen, 1995). Although the information is interesting, Loewen could have chosen to leave out some information, which could eventually retract his claim that history neglects to teach certain things as they were taught, but in an ore compacted information.

From the book, I was able to learn that though Keller and Woodrow are heroes in America, there is information that has been left out by historical books authors. Although the book does not explain why the information was left out, I have learned that these heroes had a dark part of their dealings that could lower their rank as heroes. The book indicates that Helen Keller was a supporter of the USSR. This information is rarely found in American history books, and I believe it was a great idea to bring to light this information since many people like me need to know the dark side of their heroes to understand that even heroes had some flawed truth behind the heroism taught by historical textbooks. However, the history of Woodrow is more popular, only that, history textbooks do not indicate that he also led motiveless fights. Therefore the book is educative and contains more revealing information which I consider unnecessary in the school curriculum and useful for the library.

However, I dislike this book due to the way through which information is arranged. While reading the book, I found it challenging to go with the flow of the happenings. Although the book succeeds in bringing out the essential faults within the education of the conventional history student, the book fails to prove why the information contained in the history books is corrupt. The information contained in this book is inaccurate and would be stimulating in every way if it was arranged in a more coherent and exciting matter. Throughout the book, the reader struggles to bring together the thoughts that are randomly arranged, which makes it more ambiguous than the books Loewen claims to defraud. The random arrangement of the information can be challenging and less appealing, which is what I was feeling. The entire book follows a similar pattern of suggesting great ideas without a clear follow-through, and if present, it is both tedious and confusing to appreciate.

The book had the potential of being a significant consideration to American history teaching due to its ability to identify less popular facts about the United States. However, it is too faulty to be considered impactful. Nevertheless, I do not hate the book; it is fantastic and contains essential information regarding American history. What I dislike is the lack of a proper method of enhancing the great ideas proposed and the presence of information that already exists in the syllabuses, such as the Christopher Columbus plans. From the title of the book, I expected to find mind-blowing details that could have changed my views on America, only to find repetitions and a confusing conveyance of ideas.


Loewen, J. W. (1995). Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. New York, NY: New Press. Retrieved from:

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