Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen was the first nonfiction, non memoir book I ever read of my own free will, in 2003 when I was twenty-two. It was the book that showed me I could enjoy reading a nonfiction book based on facts and research (as opposed to fiction and as opposed to nonfiction that’s story-based), especially when it wasn’t assigned. Many more books of this variety came after, but this book was my first.
Lies My Teacher Told Me explores the misinformation in American History textbooks by looking at it from several different angles. The most prominent of these is James W. Loewen’s thorough survey of twelve textbooks used in American History high school classes across the country and exploring where they fall short–omissions, some outright lies, reliance on secondary (and tertiary, etc.) sources instead of available primary sources–and how they leave us disconnected from our history. He also goes into the process for textbook approval for school systems, and how censorship can often play a role there.