|James W. Loewen Is...|
A sociologist who spent two years at the Smithsonian surveying twelve leading high school textbooks of American history only to find an embarrassing blend of bland optimism, blind nationalism, and plain misinformation, weighing in at an average of 888 pages and almost five pounds. A best-selling author who wrote Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong and Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong. A researcher who discovered that many, and in many states most communities were "Sundown Towns" that kept out blacks (and sometimes other groups) for decades. (Some still do.) An educator who attended Carleton College, holds the Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University, and taught race relations for twenty years at the University of Vermont. Learn More...
See the James W. Loewen entry on Wikipedia
Download a color or b&w photo of Dr. Loewen
Here is a story in the River Cities Reader about an appearance by Jim Loewen in Moline/Davenport/Bettendorf/Rock Island/East Moline, the five "Quad Cities," a couple of years ago. Such stories help bring in the general public to talks that otherwise might be limited to college students, school system teachers, or community organization members.
|NGO Holiday Card|
This "card" is from the folks in Korea who organized the conferences I attended, summer 2009 in Seoul and summer 2010 in Hanoi. They very wisely make use of accurate history to argue for justice today. In Hanoi they had NGO representatives attending from Japan, China, Vietnam of course, Thailand, Laos, and a scattering from other countries, such as me from the U.S., a very interesting historian from Germany, someone from Australia, etc. In the twentieth century no one's hands were clean. Korean troops committed more atrocities per capita than Americans, in Vietnam. Vietnam of course attacked Cambodia. Japan attacked almost everyone. And so on. A very interesting conference. I think I got onto the card because of my obvious similarity to Santa Claus.
|Newest Additions to the Site|
Correct(ed): A new series on how to teach history for K-12 teachers. 16 short essays covering topics from teaching slavery to Thanksgiving. Read the introduction to the series here.
|James Loewen's Books...|
The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader
Most Americans hold basic misconceptions about the Confederacy, the Civil War, and the acts of neo-Confederates afterward. For example, two-thirds of Americans--including most history teachers--think the Confederate States seceded for "states' rights." This error persists because most have never read the key documents about the Confederacy. Now we are marking the 150th anniversary of secession and Civil War. Surely it's time to get this history right! The first secession document, South Carolina's "Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union" actually opposes states' rights. Mississipp's Declaration says, "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery--the greatest material interest of the world." Later documents show how neo-Confederates lied about all this in the twentieth century. The most recent document -- Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue's 2008 "Confederate History Month Proclamation," shows a new twist. Now Neo-Confederates claim that thousands of African Americans "saw action in the Confederate armed forces in many combat roles." The book shows what's wrong with this claim and also explains why it is crucial to get this history right in the 21st century. Learn More...
Teaching What Really Happened
Loewen's new book calls K-12 teachers to teach history and social studies in a new way. It offers teachers specific ideas for how to get students excited about history, how to get them to DO history, and how to help them read critically. It also helps teachers tackle difficult but important topics like the American Indian experience, slavery, and race relations. Learn More...
Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism
(Gustavus Myers Human Rights Book Award, Selected by Booklist as a 2005 Editor's Choice Selection)
From Maine to California, thousands of communities kept out African Americans (or sometimes Chinese Americans, Jewish Americans, etc.) by force, law, or custom. Some towns are still all white on purpose. Their chilling stories have been joined more recently by the many elite (and some not so elite) suburbs like Grosse Pointe, MI, or Edina, MN, that have excluded nonwhites by "kinder gentler means." Learn More...
Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Texbook Got Wrong
American history is full of fantastic and important stories. These stories have the power to spellbind audiences, even audiences of difficult seventh graders. Yet they sleep through the classes that present it.
What has gone wrong?
We begin to get a handle on that question by noting that textbooks dominate history teaching more than any other field. Students are right: the books are boring. The stories they tell are predictable because every problem is getting solved, if it has not been already. Textbooks exclude conflict or real suspense. They leave out anything that might reflect badly upon our national character. No wonder students lose interest. We have got to do better. Learn More...
Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong
Did you know that the automobile was invented in rural Wisconsin? That a Texas preacher beat the Wright brothers by a year, in a plane inspired by the word of God? That four different people in three different states "first" used anesthesia in an operation? That Abraham Lincoln was born in a cabin in Kentucky built 30 years after his death? Those things never happened, of course, but the landscape commemorates them anyway.
Lies Across America teaches visitors to read between the lines of historical markers and to deconstruct the sculptures on monuments and memorials. Viewed in this way, the lies and omissions across the American countryside suggest times and ways that the United States went astray as a nation. Learn More...
The Mississippi Chinese : Between Black and White
This scholarly, carefully researched book studies one of the most
overlooked minority groups in America---the Chinese of the Mississippi Delta. During Reconstruction, white plantation owners imported Chinese sharecroppers in the hope of replacing their black laborers. In the beginning they were classed with blacks. But the Chinese soon moved into the towns and became almost without exception, owners of small groceries. Loewen details their astounding transition from "black" to essentially white status. Learn More...
Mississippi : Conflict and Change
First-year students at Tougaloo College taught me that they had absorbed a white supremacist false narrative of their past, even in all-Black high schools. As a result, I put together a team of students and faculty at Tougaloo and from nearby Millsaps College and wrote a new history of the state. Historian Lawrence Goodwyn called Mississippi: Conflict and Change "the best history of an American state I have ever seen." It won the Lillian Smith Award for Best Southern Nonfiction of 1975, but the State of Mississippi rejected it for school use, leading to the lawsuit Loewen et al. v. Turnipseed, et al., finally won in 1980. This link leads to several resources for teaching about Mississippi. Learn More...
|James Loewen's Audio Books and Lectures...|
Everything You've Been Taught is Wrong: Fact, Fiction, and Lies in American History: 14 Lectures (Audio CD)
The study of the past is supposed to help us make sense of our place in history and inform the choices we make every day. But what if the lessons we were taught in American History class were not true? In this eye-opening and provocative series of lectures, renowned historian James W. Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me, unravels the fact from the fiction, the unvarnished truths from the convenient myths, and explains the reasons American history has so often been distorted.
The Modern Scholar is a series of exciting and informative lectures recorded by some of today's most renowned university and college professors. Each package includes 14 riveting lectures as well as a book-length course guide. Learn More
Lies My Teacher Told Me [UNABRIDGED] (Audio CD)
Now as an Audio Book! Loewen argues that our bland, Eurocentric treatment of history bores most elementary and high school students, who find it irrelevant to their lives. To make learning more compelling, Loewen urges authors, publishers, and teachers to highlight the drama inherent in history by presenting students with different viewpoints and stressing that history is an ongoing process, not merely a collection of — often misleading — factoids. Readers interested in history, whether liberal or conservative, professional or layperson, will find food for thought here. Learn More...
Sundown Towns [UNABRIDGED] (Audio CD)
Loewen shows that many towns and counties across the North and West -- in some states, most towns -- became all white on purpose between 1890 and 1968. Some still are. He investigates the causes, spread, and possible cures for this appalling development, which sometimes affected Jews, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans as well as African Americans.