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Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus: What Your History Books Got Wrong

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In Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus, the bestselling author of Lies My Teacher Told Me offers a graphic corrective to the Columbus story told in so many American classrooms. First published over fifteen years ago and long out-of-print, the poster and accompanying paperback book sum up the mis-tellings—and reveal the real story—in a graphically appealing a In Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus, the bestselling author of Lies My Teacher Told Me offers a graphic corrective to the Columbus story told in so many American classrooms. First published over fifteen years ago and long out-of-print, the poster and accompanying paperback book sum up the mis-tellings—and reveal the real story—in a graphically appealing and accessible format. In vintage Loewen fashion, the poster juxtaposes short quotes from a range of high school textbooks currently in use, with excerpts from primary sources that clearly show how textbooks have "lied" by knowingly substituting crowd-pleasing myths for grim and gruesome historical evidence. In fact, these textbooks intentionally omitted every important detail that we do know about Columbus’s fateful voyage to the Americas. Among countless other facts, Loewen demonstrates that Columbus and his men were far from the first to set foot in the "New World," and that the peoples he encountered there did not submit to the "god-like" authority of him and his crewmen, but rather to the deadly forms of smallpox and bubonic plague they brought with them from Europe. In concise, deeply engaging prose, Loewen expands on these little-discussed facts, putting them in the larger context of a discussion of "truth" and revisionist history.


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In Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus, the bestselling author of Lies My Teacher Told Me offers a graphic corrective to the Columbus story told in so many American classrooms. First published over fifteen years ago and long out-of-print, the poster and accompanying paperback book sum up the mis-tellings—and reveal the real story—in a graphically appealing a In Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus, the bestselling author of Lies My Teacher Told Me offers a graphic corrective to the Columbus story told in so many American classrooms. First published over fifteen years ago and long out-of-print, the poster and accompanying paperback book sum up the mis-tellings—and reveal the real story—in a graphically appealing and accessible format. In vintage Loewen fashion, the poster juxtaposes short quotes from a range of high school textbooks currently in use, with excerpts from primary sources that clearly show how textbooks have "lied" by knowingly substituting crowd-pleasing myths for grim and gruesome historical evidence. In fact, these textbooks intentionally omitted every important detail that we do know about Columbus’s fateful voyage to the Americas. Among countless other facts, Loewen demonstrates that Columbus and his men were far from the first to set foot in the "New World," and that the peoples he encountered there did not submit to the "god-like" authority of him and his crewmen, but rather to the deadly forms of smallpox and bubonic plague they brought with them from Europe. In concise, deeply engaging prose, Loewen expands on these little-discussed facts, putting them in the larger context of a discussion of "truth" and revisionist history.

30 review for Lies My Teacher Told Me About Christopher Columbus: What Your History Books Got Wrong

  1. 4 out of 5

    C.C. Thomas

    The whole time I read this book, I could only think of the recent (February 2015) movement by Oklahoma lawmakers that banned certain AP history courses because they didn't teach "American' exceptionalism". If there were ever a case of needing a book in American classrooms, this is it and Oklahoma just proved it. I feel this book should most certainly be required for ALL history teachers (and probably for all Oklahoma lawmakers!). The fact that, according to the book, so many teachers of history The whole time I read this book, I could only think of the recent (February 2015) movement by Oklahoma lawmakers that banned certain AP history courses because they didn't teach "American' exceptionalism". If there were ever a case of needing a book in American classrooms, this is it and Oklahoma just proved it. I feel this book should most certainly be required for ALL history teachers (and probably for all Oklahoma lawmakers!). The fact that, according to the book, so many teachers of history are ignorant on this subject is frightening. As a teacher (although not of history), I know this to be true. Many teacher's programs do not focus on giving teachers relevant information so much as indoctrinating them into whatever current educational philosophy is in swing. For the past fifteen years, testing has been in vogue and true academic thought and research have gone out the window as American teachers strive to teach kids to bubble in the right answer. This book does what a book should: makes you think and question and argue and rage. And, then think some more. This is NOT a book of revisionist history, but rather a book of actual history. While many of the stories were old news to me (heinous Christopher Columbus and the genocide of American Indians, for example), many of the items in the book were new for me to read about. That scared me quite a bit. I like to think of myself as an armchair historian, but clearly I've not been getting the full story. It was so disappointing and disheartening to read about the Vietnam War, a topic I have never been taught and only know about from the news. The beauty of the book isn't that it necessarily rewrites American history; rather, it is the questioning the book causes. I had to stop at several points and go look up and read about some of these topics. Surely, some of the facts must be wrong, right? Unfortunately, no. What I found only mirrors what we see on TV everyday: the same event told in completely different versions by members of opposing political natures that eventually comes out not resembling truth in the least. It fascinates me to see how we change our version of history to make ourselves (Americans) look better. I'm still a bit perplexed by many items in the book and have added several new titles to my list of books to read later. Overall, this is probably a book most fascinating to teachers, especially teachers of history, and anyone interested in history. It isn't a book to pick up if you want inspiring stories of heroism or general knowledge, but that makes it all the more important and relevant.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jared

    I like history. There was a good deal of facts in the book that were eye opening. I don't dispute those facts. In fact I looked up in Wikipedia and verified a great many of them. Which leads me to my disagreement with the author. There was definitely a political slant to the book. Ok I like to hear both sides of the story. In fact, that was one of his points, that history is a debate more that it is set of facts. Then he throws a lot, and I mean a lot of facts. Sort of defeating his own argument I like history. There was a good deal of facts in the book that were eye opening. I don't dispute those facts. In fact I looked up in Wikipedia and verified a great many of them. Which leads me to my disagreement with the author. There was definitely a political slant to the book. Ok I like to hear both sides of the story. In fact, that was one of his points, that history is a debate more that it is set of facts. Then he throws a lot, and I mean a lot of facts. Sort of defeating his own arguments. If it was a book about facts and another side of history (4 stars) If it was a book about why history textbooks are flawed (5 stars) A book that mixes the two in a long drawn out rhetoric (2 1/2 stars) Hint: go research Wikipedia, explore its sources, search the web, and form your own opinions.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Penni

    I liked the premise of the book but hated the author's tone. It's eye opening and embarrassing. I'm intrigued enough to read up more on the topic. I liked the premise of the book but hated the author's tone. It's eye opening and embarrassing. I'm intrigued enough to read up more on the topic.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Harvey Smith

    The books we learned history from were watered down, and in many cases, plain inaccurate. It's like many times the history in the books is a history as the author wishes it was. All that said, I enjoyed this book, as it made me think about finding out more about a lot of historical happenings, other than the simple ideas I've been presented with. The books we learned history from were watered down, and in many cases, plain inaccurate. It's like many times the history in the books is a history as the author wishes it was. All that said, I enjoyed this book, as it made me think about finding out more about a lot of historical happenings, other than the simple ideas I've been presented with.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    While a good portion of it becoming common knowledge, this book does an excellent job at surveying popular American History textbooks and compares the prevalence of certain topics which the author considers under-appreciated or mis-taught in schools. While I didn't agree with the author in the importance of certain subject matter, and the author's liberal bias begins to show more readily during the labor chapters, it doesn't minimize the heroification of American History found in textbooks. While a good portion of it becoming common knowledge, this book does an excellent job at surveying popular American History textbooks and compares the prevalence of certain topics which the author considers under-appreciated or mis-taught in schools. While I didn't agree with the author in the importance of certain subject matter, and the author's liberal bias begins to show more readily during the labor chapters, it doesn't minimize the heroification of American History found in textbooks.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dolores Johnson

    Eye-opening; basically explains digging deeper and not believing everything you read/are told.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    This book is written like a textbook, so its not super compelling to sit down and really dig in. The author shines the light on how history is taught, or rather mistaught in schools and "facts" continue to be perpetuated as eurocentric. This leads to "feel good" history, he does not endorse "fell bad" history but e courage us to look at realistic history and all sides. It was alarming to learn that textbooks sre not reviewed by historians and how often authors of textbooks rely on or plagiarize This book is written like a textbook, so its not super compelling to sit down and really dig in. The author shines the light on how history is taught, or rather mistaught in schools and "facts" continue to be perpetuated as eurocentric. This leads to "feel good" history, he does not endorse "fell bad" history but e courage us to look at realistic history and all sides. It was alarming to learn that textbooks sre not reviewed by historians and how often authors of textbooks rely on or plagiarize other textbooks, perpetuating in ongoing misinformation. Towards the end, the lower reminds us that "History is what we say happened," which is different than what actually happened. The fact that Columbus never made it to America was definitely interesting. The closed would be Peutro Rico, a US territory.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sean Murphy

    I am a big James Loewen fan. Although short, this book does not disappoint. I am a sucker for telling the truth about our history and dealing with the good, bad and ugly. Patriotism is all about looking honestly at our history, being genuine and dealing with all of it as it happened. Loewen does not disappoint here. Balanced, fair and important. Wish he had a theistic perspective, but otherwise very good.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    A very thorough little book about what we really know and don't know about Christopher Columbus and his "finds" in his journey on the sea... He was actually not the first person to sail to America or "discover" it. He's just coined with it... He's a very mysterious historical person. Even his burial site is debated... A very thorough little book about what we really know and don't know about Christopher Columbus and his "finds" in his journey on the sea... He was actually not the first person to sail to America or "discover" it. He's just coined with it... He's a very mysterious historical person. Even his burial site is debated...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alejandro

    Good book if you get past all of the author's ranting. First 9 chapters were pretty good. Once he got into Textbook publishing and what not it felt like a 100 page rant. It was tough to power through those last pages. Nice little history lessons not covered in high school. I had some great history classes in college that were definitely as critical of history as this book. Good book if you get past all of the author's ranting. First 9 chapters were pretty good. Once he got into Textbook publishing and what not it felt like a 100 page rant. It was tough to power through those last pages. Nice little history lessons not covered in high school. I had some great history classes in college that were definitely as critical of history as this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rui

    A mind-blowing must-read in your lifetime. It will definitely make you uneasy. But you need it...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dorian

    Good book. Worth the read. A little heavy on political agenda. I liked 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus much better.

  13. 5 out of 5

    A.J. Richard

    Every teacher and every student in America should read this book. In just 55 pages, my concept of American history was expanded immensely. And, my understanding of history was improved immensely.

  14. 4 out of 5

    ejs

    Filled with "real" history and extremely informative. It is a bit "over kill", but very important. Filled with "real" history and extremely informative. It is a bit "over kill", but very important.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Paschalis

    elibrary

  16. 4 out of 5

    Royce Ratterman

    An interesting read with many facts included for the reader's future research efforts. Overall, a good book for the researcher and enthusiast. Read for personal research - found this book's contents helpful and inspiring - number rating relates to the book's contribution to my needs. An interesting read with many facts included for the reader's future research efforts. Overall, a good book for the researcher and enthusiast. Read for personal research - found this book's contents helpful and inspiring - number rating relates to the book's contribution to my needs.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Entertaining if a bit one-note. I finished it feeling fairly impotent-ragey. Interesting though.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Justin Thompson

    Great for anyone who wants to truly understand history.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    fun, even if you don't like history. Only slightly political. fun, even if you don't like history. Only slightly political.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Edward ott

    A great deal of the history we are taught in school is actually just propaganda. This book exposes much of the propaganda half truths and lies we are told about Columbus

  21. 4 out of 5

    Shyam

    A bit dry, but this is a must-read for anyone who grew up in the US or wonders why we Americans can be so ignorant about our own history.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Madison N. Baumholser

  23. 5 out of 5

    Callie

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ty

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rosalee Quiles

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ninad

  28. 4 out of 5

    Staci Mcconnell

  29. 5 out of 5

    Beth

  30. 5 out of 5

    T.

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