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

Loewen, James W.

Touchstone, 2007

p. 6

Traditionally, American schoolkids have studied American history out of textbooks that are often seriously flawed. The books shrink from presenting and describing controversy (how well did Columbus and the Pilgrims treat Native Americans? Were Native Americans mostly nomadic plains people? How long before Columbus was North America settled, and what does this do to the repeated claim that Columbus “discovered” North America?). Avoiding a lot of the national embarrassments that lie behind popular historical myths, the history books retreat to bland and optimistic accounts of the rise of America to world prominence: Textbooks “portray the past as a simpleminded morality play. ‘Be a good citizen’ is the message that textbooks extract from the past. ‘You have a proud heritage. Be all that you can be. After all, look at what the United States has accomplished.’ While there is nothing wrong with optimism, it can become something of a burden for students of color, children of working-class parents, girls who notice the dearth of female historical figures, or members of any group that has not achieved socioeconomic success. The optimistic approach prevents any understanding of failure other than blaming the victim.”