WMU News

'History lies' says visiting author and historian

Nov. 3, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- Don't believe what you learned in your high school history class.

That's the message Dr. James Loewen, plans to deliver when he visits Western Michigan University Monday, Nov. 13.

Loewen, author of "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong," will make a presentation based on that book at 7:30 p.m. in Room 2000 of Schneider Hall. A reception will follow in the lobby of the Fetzer Center. Loewen's presentation, which is the first in the new Nick Hamner Speaker Series, sponsored by the WMU Department of History, is free and open to the public.

A faculty member at the University of Vermont, Loewen spent two years at the Smithsonian Institution surveying 12 leading high school American history textbooks. In response to the misinformation and blind nationalism he found in these texts, he wrote "Lies My Teacher Told Me," which presents a critique of the way American history is taught, while retelling American history as he believed it should be taught. That book is now in its 22nd printing.

Loewen says that the miseducation of history continues even after Americans leave the classroom and describes the half-truths of historic memorials and markers in his 1999 book, "Lies Across America: What Our Historic Markers and Monuments Get Wrong." Loewen gives a number of examples, including a memorial to Montana's Confederate soldiers that seems pointless since Montana was still Indian country during the Civil War and the fact that the Jefferson Memorial juxtaposes phrases in a way that ultimately misrepresents what Jefferson said.

While in Kalamazoo, Loewen will also speak to a WMU history class, as well as to groups at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum and the Kalamazoo Regional Education Service Agency.

For more information, contact Dr. James M. Ferreira, professor of history, at (616) 387-5382 or the WMU Department of History at (616) 387-4650.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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