NPR

'Lies My Teacher Told Me,' And How American History Can Be Used As A Weapon

James Loewen's 1995 book explained how history textbooks got the story of America wrong. Now, in a new edition, Loewen champions critical thinking in the age of fake news.
Source: Cornelia Li for NPR

When I was a high school junior in New Orleans taking AP American History, my teacher assigned us a paperback book. Slim in contrast to our hulking required textbook, it was a funny, compelling, even shocking read. Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James Loewen, explained how history textbooks got the story of America wrong, usually by soft-pedaling, oversimplifying and burying the thorny drama and uncertainties of the past under a blanket of dull, voice-of-God narration.

The book also taught a lot of history. It introduced me to concepts that still help me make sense of the world, like the "racial nadir" — the downturn in American race relations, starting after Reconstruction, which saw the rise of lynchings and the Ku Klux Klan. In doing so, overturned one assumption

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