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Exposing the Lies in American History Education: A Critical Look at “Lies My Teacher Told Me”

From the early years of formal education, American students are taught about the country’s rich history, from the discovery of America to the founding of the nation and significant historical events that shaped society. However, as it turns out, most of the information passed down through generations may not be entirely accurate.

“Lies My Teacher Told Me,” a book by James W. Loewen, sheds light on the flaws and inaccuracy in American education. Loewen’s book is a must-read, especially for those who aspire to know the truth in History. This article explores how Loewen’s book exposes inaccuracies and uncovers hidden truths in American history education.

Christopher Columbus: The Misunderstood Discoverer

Christopher Columbus is typically portrayed in textbooks as the brave discoverer of America, who set sail westward to prove the world was round, only to “discover” America. Still, the truth is far from what Christopher Columbus is commonly taught to represent.

According to Loewen’s book, Christopher Columbus was not the first person to discover America nor did he set out to discover a new landmass. In reality, the land he discovered was already inhabited, and he was unaware of its existence before sailing west.

Thanksgiving: A Holiday of Appropriation

Thanksgiving is one of the most popular American holidays, celebrated in the fall to mark the coming together of Pilgrims and Native Americans. However, the story of Thanksgiving is just that, a story.

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As Loewen explains, the thanksgiving story we’re taught paints the Pilgrims as migrants seeking religious freedom, who met friendly natives who helped teach them how to survive in a new land. In truth, the Pilgrims’ arrival introduced diseases that ravaged the Native American population. Pilgrims also stole land from their hosts and refused to return it, leading to bloodshed.

The Civil War: A Battle for States’ Rights?

American history textbooks typically portray the Civil War as a battle fought to end slavery, but this isn’t entirely accurate. As Loewen’s book explains, most history textbooks portray the states’ rights that led to the Civil War as related to states’ rights to self-governance.

The reality was that it was states’ rights to keep slavery. According to Loewen, as well as a considerable amount of historical evidence, the Confederacy was entirely focused on maintaining slavery as the most significant economic force of the time and, subsequently, fought to maintain their “right” to it.

Key Takeaways

  • Our history education is far less accurate than we once believed.
  • Christopher Columbus was not who we thought he was, nor did he discover America.
  • The story of Thanksgiving was very different from what we have been taught in various American classrooms.
  • The Civil War was fought primarily over the right to own slaves.


American history education is incomplete and, to an extent, inaccurate. Addressing past atrocities is fraught with politics, but by continuing to adhere to the old narratives, we do ourselves a disservice, and we fail to learn and grow as a society. “Lies My Teacher Told Me” exposes truth where it was formerly erroneously disguised, making it an essential read for anyone who battles to understand the present through accurate knowledge of the past.

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Is “Lies My Teacher Told Me” an entirely accurate account of historical events?

No book is perfect and without flaws, and “Lies My Teacher Told Me” is no exception. Despite its shortcomings, it’s still an accessible source for many previously ignored truths.

Who should read “Lies My Teacher Told Me?”

“Lies My Teacher Told Me” is an excellent resource for anyone interested in history, especially those who wish to learn the truth about the past.

Why is it essential to know the truth of our history?

Knowing our country’s real past, with all its complexities and contradictions, allows us to understand what we needed to change, making our country better for everyone that comes next.

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