Did you know Helen Keller was a radical Socialist who supported Russian Bolshevism with messianic fervor? Or that 500 Spaniards and 100 blacks founded a town in what is now South Carolina....in 1526, eighty-one years before the Jamestown Settlement? Or that J. Edgar Hoover's FBI sent threatening messages to Martin Luther King, Jr. suggesting that he kill himself?
If you're like most Americans you'd answer no. But it's not your fault—the textbooks almost universally perpetuate a series of myths and outright lies that present a far different American history than its citizens experienced. Author James Loewen investigates many of these, and the reasons for their invention and propagation.
Loewen's facts aren't just fascinating tidbits, and they aren't the point of the book—they simply reveal flaws in our approach to history. Instead of telling the fascinating human story of our nation, textbooks are crammed with facts and glossed with heavy doses of nationalism until the U. S. is seen as the lone good guy amidst benighted primitives and anti-Christians.
This is simply not faithful to the truth, Loewen argues, and takes on the dual task of presenting some of that truth while showing why teaching alternate views is harmful. In the introduction he claims studies routinely show American students rate history as their least favorite subject, and that they have the most difficulty committing the information to memory.
Some of this may shock you, especially if it calls into question what you "know" about our history, but it isn't sensationalism. Loewen wants to see reform in history education instead of the hero worship, revisionism and lying that often passes for serious study. The revised edition includes a chapter on 9/11 and the Iraq war, and proves itself even more timely and needed than its predecessor.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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