Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen Essay

1948 Words 8 Pages
Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen

High school history textbooks are seen, by students, as presenting the last word on American History. Rarely, if ever, do they question what their text tells them about our collective past. According to James W. Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me, they should be. Loewen has spent considerable time and effort reviewing history texts that were written for high school students. In Lies, he has reviewed twenty texts and has compared them to the actual history. Sadly, not one text measures up to the author's expectation of teaching students to think. What is worse, though, is that students come away from their classes without "having developed the ability to think coherently about social
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According to Loewen they got his name right, and not much else. Lies points out that there were many groups of explorers that had "discovered" America before Columbus. He probably used some of their information as a basis for his plans to sail west. A full eight pages are devoted to other possible explorers. These groups include ancient groups from Indonesia, Japan, China, and Phoenicia. More recent groups include the Vikings, British Islanders, West Africans, and Portuguese fishermen. There are varying levels of evidence connecting these groups to pre-Columbian America, but still enough to throw doubt into the mix. Columbus got the credit because of the way in which Europe responded to his "discovery."

Other false ideas taught about Columbus deal with what is left out. His original motivation may have been to find another trade route to the Orient, but his real motivation, in subsequent expeditions to America, was money. By 1493 Columbus had planned to plunder Haiti, according to Michele de Cuneo, who had been on Columbus's first voyage. Columbus, himself, said to Ferdinand and Isabella that his motivation was gold, and " gold constitutes treasure; and he who has it does all he wants in the world, and can even lift souls up to Paradise" (Lies p34). Another side of Columbus
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