James Loewen has now sold more than a million copies of his 1995 best seller, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. That fact seems to indicate that, in at least one respect, his recasting of the American history of old white men has found its way into the mainstream. Evidence of his staying power comes with the publication of his latest effort, Teaching What Really Happened: How to Avoid the Tyranny of Textbooks and Get Students Excited About Doing History (due in October), which is seemingly designed as both a cattle prod for traditionalists and a how-to for the converted. “Teachers who already teach beyond and occasionally against their U.S. history textbooks will find that this book will help them explain their approach to other teachers who still teach traditionally,” he writes in his introduction. “For those who have not yet dared to break away from the security of just teaching the textbook, this book will provide specific ways to do so—ways that have worked for other teachers.” Hopefully, one of these educators will ask him at this reading what he’s got against the traditional Thanksgiving story—his answer is certain to put an end to pilgrim pageants once and for all.
Loewen reads Monday, Nov. 9, at 6:30 P.M. at Busboys & Poets, 2021 14th St. NW. Free. (202) 387-7638.