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James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

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

Continuing Historical Controversies

Should we have dropped the atom bomb on Nagasaki? (Please note: We did so three days after Hiroshima, before ascertaining the impact of Hiroshima upon the Japanese government.) Why did we drop it? What was its impact upon the course of history? U.S. history courses almost never address these questions.

The past happened. History is not “the past.” History is what we say about the past. So history changes as we say different things. That doesn’t mean “anything goes.” About some events and causes, such as why eleven states left the U.S. to form the Confederacy, we have conclusive evidence (unless you want to claim that the Confederate leaders all lied when they explained why they seceded). About some other events and causes, we are still collecting evidence and developing plausible interpretations.

Here are some items showing continuing controversy.

Loewen claims historical profession has not handled the issues of "truth" and "controversy" effectively. Read his critique in the preface to the newest edition of Lies My Teacher Told Me, here:

“In two ways the web has made things worse. First, it has jeopardized the finances of newspapers. When retailers found they could reach potential customers more cheaply online, many decreased advertising in newspapers.”

Read more here.