Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, rev. ed.

Loewen, James W.

Touchstone, 2007

pp. 206-16

American history textbooks say very little about the division of Americans into distinct social classes, even though—along with race—social class is one of the most significant and powerful variables in American society, affecting people from the time they are in the womb and receivers of the best prenatal care or spotty prenatal care or none. Social class affects the quality of housing and of schooling, including the quality of teachers’ expectations. It bears heavily on the extent of a person’s schooling, and then of future earnings. It influences people’s political leanings, and their attitudes toward their country. Social class influences people’s health and their life expectancy. American history textbooks anchor none of their discussions—not even of labor strikes—in any analysis of social class. Only a minority of textbooks discuss social class stratification—and these do so largely for colonial America! Since freedom, progress, opportunity, and upward mobility are the persistent motifs embodied in American history textbooks, the country’s vast and growing income inequality and its shrinking middle class are counter-motifs and embarrassing. So they are almost entirely ignored.