Home » Telling the Truth about the Past » On the Landscape, In Public History » Lies Across America » Readers and Critics Respond to Lies Across America

James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.

Readers and Critics Respond to Lies Across America

“A great book, a fun book, and an important book.”
– Ira Berlin, Department of History, University of Maryland

Responding to a question on the Public History Discussion List:
“Can anyone suggest recent studies that document the cultural or social value of … historic sites, museums, and similar activities?”

“I know that this answer will be controversial, but I say, sure! Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong, by James W. Loewen. I know that you will get a lot of references to books extolling the positive value of historical sites, but I believe this book belongs on any objective bibliography of historical preservation.”
– Dennis G. Medina, University of Texas, San Antonio, 11/99.

“I thought Lies My Teacher Told Me was amazing and I found Lies Across America even more disturbing and powerful.”
– Greg Davidson, 2/2000.
“Lies My Teacher…has been an essential part of my teaching and learning, and I’m looking forward to making equally good use of Lies Across America!”
– Linda Mizell, National Coalition of Education Activists.

“I read Lies My Teacher Told Me this past summer and I have just finished Lies Across America. I am fascinated, excited, angry, and am feeling a host of other emotions. . . . You have helped to rejuvenate a love, a thirst, a passion for teaching US history that was within me.”
– Stan Wyman, Seaside, CA, 2/2000.

“A true classic, thoughtfully written without pulling punches.”
– Chris Kromm, editor, Southern Exposure.

Lies My Teacher Told Me was a revelation, although I already had the general idea, and Lies Across America was a major revelation, as I had no idea.”
– Jim Abel, 1/2000.

“Reading your new book, Lies Across America and love it. Also loved Lies My Teacher Told Me. Both books have taught me a lot and even changed me. Your books seem more exposing truth than pushing an agenda (something I feel with Howard Zinn for example). I also appreciate the way you approach History like a science instead of a clearly defined and understood group of nationalistic facts. . . . Once again I want to thank you for influencing me on history more than any other history books ever have.”
– Carl Granados, 2/2000.

Lies Across America was a thought-provoking and interesting experience.”
– Bruce Kaplan

“Your book was a revelation to me with all its detail and vast scope.”
– Bob Van Nuys, Stevens Pt. WI, 1/2000.

“Have just read Lies Across America, and have found myself at times amused, outraged and educated. Thanks for a thoroughly enjoyable book.”
– Leonard A. Hall, 1/2000.

“Absolutely an eye-opener and essential reading to everyone involved in public history.”
– Scott Peters, “Historically Speaking,” Howell, NJ

“Let me tell you how much I enjoyed your book Lies Across America. I just finished it and am now starting your Lies My Teacher Told Me. I am a history major, and I work at Doubleday Bookshop in Dallas, TX … I plan on becoming a history professor and I think that in your work I have found a role model.”
– Wesley Johnson, 3/2000.

“In Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong, James Loewen takes to task over 100 erroneous historical markers, monuments, houses, forts and ships. The author of the award-winning Lies My Teacher Told Me dissects these monuments’ simplistic versions of American history to reveal the complex struggles they often conceal. The result is a fascinating book as valuable to sightseers as it is to historians.”
– Publishers Weekly

“I applaud and highly recommend Loewen’s book Lies Across America is a powerful follow-up to Loewen’s previous work, Lies My Teacher Told Me.”
– Harry Shattuck, The Houston Chronicle

“Every state has puffed-up heroes, bloated pioneer legends and inflated tales of military triumph. This book, sharp as a tack, punctures the worst of them.”
– Chris Welsch, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“A fascinating book.”
– Bruce Dancis, The Sacramento Bee

“A remarkable achievement. A brisk, entertaining, and, at times, inspiring read. Lies Across America is full of fascinating facts, challenging ideas and important insights. You will never read a roadside historical marker the same way again.”
– Michael Ross, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans)

“The book is a fascinating study of what this country chooses to honor and why. As interesting as what is honored is what is left out.”
– Mary Curtis, The Charlotte Observer

“For the real deal on U.S. history, pick up Lies Across America. You will second guess your history courses with revealing facts that counter conventional wisdom from sites in Alabama to Wyoming. Each site’s misinformation is refuted with detailed and credible research.”
– Thom Storey, The Tennessean

“Loewen has produced a remarkably readable book about how many historic sties provide false, misleading or incomplete information.” – George Morris, Sunday Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)

“Filled with compelling examples of how history texts fail to inform our schoolchildren and how educators can correct the myths and misperceptions.”
– James Baldwin, Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC)

“A wonderful idea for a book. Loewen makes a good case for the idea that most historic sites lie.”
– David Hammack, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“This book takes an often amusing look at the strange and sometimes sinister motivation behind the creation of many of America’s historic sites.”
– Library Journal

“Having just finished your second book of your Lies series, I wanted to write and congratulate you on two wonderful books! As a schoolteacher who currently works in the Education Section of a museum (which includes historic sites), I found your books a timely and engrossing read, a much-needed look into how history has been manipulated.”
– Francis French, San Bernardino County Museum (CA), 4/2000.

“I just finished Lies Across America. This is the second book of yours I read, Lies my Teacher… being the first. I find your writing and information incredibly empowering. Perhaps I am biased as an African American, but these are things I wish I knew for the first 28 years of my life. I have decided to buy an extra copy of both books and leave them in the barbershop I patronize in downtown St. Louis. I figure if one or two kids read it will make a huge difference for generations to come.”
– J. C. Neal, 4/2000.

“As a Navy family in the 50’s and early 60’s, we traveled by car each time Dad received a new assignment, stopping at every historic site and marker along the way. By the time I entered high school we’d driven across country seven times. What an absolute joy and revelation to read Loewen’s book, but it was a bit painful to see how much misinformation about history and events I had absorbed and accepted on blind faith. With this book Loewen has performed an important and patriotic service. If more people reflected on the meaning and context of our historic sites we’d have a better shot at creating a citizenry willing to use the stories from our past to inform the choices we make today.”
– reader’s comment, Amazon.com.

“As the author states, we cannot change what happened in the past, but we CAN choose how to remember it. Those who criticize this book as P.C. revisionism miss the point – they incorrectly believe that interrogating history and demanding that truth be a complex, ever-evolving process are notions that are necessarily “political” or tainted by bias. How interesting it is that most people who dismiss the arguments as “politically correct” choose to perpetuate myth and “feel good” history at the expense of more uncomfortable realities. The author believes that while many people and events in our history are racist, unfair, and immoral, we should always remember them for the lessons they provide. However, he rightfully draws the line at commemoration.”
– comment by Rob Gordon at Amazon.com.

“A landmark is a window thru which we view history. Your book gives us many views of American history and empowers all of us who are doing landmarking in our own neighborhoods, unions and movements.”
– Saul Schniderman, Library of Congress, 5/2000.

“I just finished reading Lies Across America, and I was shocked and dismayed at the reality of the Confederacy as you stated in your book. I am 55 and grew up in a southern family. My great-grandfather, Winfield Scott Lineberry, was given a field promotion to Captain at the age of 17, and I was raised to be proud of the Lost Cause. They told me that it was about states rights, not slavery, and the truth hurts mightily.”
– Scott Minor, 6/2000.

“I just wanted to send you a quick note of thanks for your two books Lies My Teacher Told Me and Lies Across America, which I just finished. . . . I will never look at another monument, or my son’s history textbooks, the same again. And I will keep alert for items on the landscape, which I might change or might introduce.”
– Michael Cerone, 6/2000.