Monday, March 19, 2012

Lies my Teacher Told me: Everything Your American History textbook got wrong by James W. Loewen

The first half of this book was fascinating in evaluating High School American History books and takes on the 18th and 19th centuries by showing that most Histories fail miserably in discussing the truth about Native Americans.  The concept of Manifest Destiny really meant the decimation of Native Americans.  Native Americans were wrongfully called "savages" and were really responsible for European settlement survival.

The author is brutal against patriotic textbooks at the expense of accuracy and truth.  When the author discusses the 20th century, however, I felt there seemed to be a bias in favor of Democratic administrations.  For example, JFK's flaws are revealed almost grudgingly. The author believes in the class struggle of the poor against the rich but does not touch upon how the Asian or Jewish immigrant communities brought themselves out of poverty.

The author also questions the American Foreign policy and believes that Middle east hatred would be due to the America/ Israel alliance.  Unfortunately, like so many Americans, there is a lack of understanding of the relationship of the Islam and the West.  For example, since the founding of the Marine Corps during the time of Thomas Jefferson, the USA has confronted a hostile Middle East.  Thinking that Israel is the problem is far too simplistic and historically not true. According to the scholarship of Bernard Lewis Islam's relationship toward the West and Christendom should be understood as a percolation toward conquest.

I thought the book was provocative and has taught me to be more skeptical and cautious in teaching history texts.  One always has to look for bias and attitude; there is no such history text that is "objective" including this one!


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