- Fizzy Thoughts: Lies My Teacher Told Me

Lies My Teacher Told Me

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Lies My Teacher Told Me (audio book)
James Loewen
Narrated by Brian Keeler
book published in 1995
14.75 hours

To be fair, I was expecting something different from this book. I thought it would focus on, well, on lies my teacher told me. And it did talk about lies. In fact, the beginning of the book was quite interesting (Helen Keller was a socialist! And Woodrow Wilson was racist!). But then, the author digressed into a long (and I do mean long) rant about everything that is wrong with how American history is taught in high schools. Thing is, I mostly agree with him. But see, I didn't buy the book (which I never read) and then the audio book only to hear him drone on and on and on. And okay, Loewen wasn't the narrator, but Brian Keeler did such a fantastic job of sounding like these were his own ideas that the two will forever be linked in my mind. Oh, and Keeler had a really bad case of Alex Trebek disease (you know, over-pronunciation of foreign words?). Although he said Oregon wrong, which was enough to make me to yell back the correct pronunciation (Ore-uh-gun), which I'm sure was entertaining if you happened to be driving next to me at the time.

So, I'm rambling. Are you still with me? Here are a few more irritants:

  • Over-use of the word heroification. I got it the first time.
  • This phrase: "Steadfast reader, we are about to do something no high school American history class has ever accomplished in the annals of American education: reach the end of the textbook." First, how do you know no one has never done it? And second, don't say something like this when there are three (3!) more chapters left in your own book. Plus an afterword. It gives a reader false hope that the end is near. And that's just mean.
  • Taking the African concept of living dead (sasha) (and that does not mean zombie, btw) and applying it to your own idea and then using the word sasha 99 bajillion times in the course of a chapter. Just say living dead. Did you learn nothing from beating heroification into the ground?
  • Speaking of beating things into the ground. Columbus was not a hero. Yes, I got it the first time. And the second. And the third. After that, it's hella boring.
  • You're a sociologist. You should say that. Because making people think you're a historian is wrong. Especially when you harp on the education system that I do believe you never taught in (college doesn't count). Then when they find out you're a sociologist, you lose credibility. And then they start picking on your book.

Okay, as mentioned earlier, I did learn some interesting things, but the book turned out to be a big disappointment, mostly for the reasons (rants?) listed above.

This has been sitting on my bookshelf for 3 years, so I decided that even though it's about American history, I'm using it towards the World Citizen Challenge. Because there should be a reward for torture, right?

16 comment(s):

farmlanebooks said...

I love a good rant! Your review was really entertaining - I'll make sure I avoid the book!

Heather J. said...

I started reading this on my Disney vacation (!!!) last year and put it aside rather quickly. Like you, I was expecting more of a trivia style book. THAT is is not. :( I keep saying I'm going to pick it up again but after your review, I think now. You'll see a post on my blog shortly announcing that I've given up on this one. Thanks for the heads-up!

bermudaonion said...

Well, at least it's got a good title.

bkclubcare said...

Have I ever told you that I love your reviews?

Deborah said...

I had a customer in the store a few weeks ago ranting about this book, too.
He had much the same reaction as you...
He just wasn't as talented a ranter! :wink:

Beth F said...

Great review. Oh, BTW: did you know that Columbus was not a hero?? (ducking and running)

Ti said...

Heroification is soooo last year.

Sorry the book was a let down, but it was very entertaining on our end ;)

Wrighty said...

Oh ick. I think I would be living dead (sasha) if I tried to read this thing. Thanks for the warning. They should have to pay out refunds for false advertising!

Pam said...

So, I shouldn't loan this to the social studies teacher at my school to read?

Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books said...

Alex Trebek ... several (um, 10, 12?) years ago we were watching Jeopardy and the answer (question) was "Who is INXS" i.e., the band.

Alex gave the answer as "who is Inks" ... he didn't know the band or how to pronounce it. Of course, now whenever someone mentions INXS or we hear one of their songs (admittedly, this doesn't happen often!), we have to quote "who is inks?"

Yes, goofball humor after 16 yrs of marriage!

softdrink said...

Jackie - This book is really US-centric, to boot.

Heather - Yeah, I was ready for some trivia, too. And this is so not the book to accompany a Disney vacation!

Kathy - To paraphrase, titles aren't everything. :-D

Care - thank you kindly!

Deborah - I'm much better in print...which still isn't saying much!

Beth - run fast.

Ti - Like totally.

Wrighty - hah! Good one.

Pam - Depending on their teaching style, they might consider it an insult. Actually, I agreed and I still found it insulting.

Dawn - awesome story!! Alex probably feels popular culture is beneath him. And goofball humor is alive and well in our house, too.

girasoli said...

You sure found a way to make the book more interesting - or at least the rant was. I hate when the title misleads you. It is almost like they know the book isn't that good, so let's use a title to suck people into buying the book.

Lisa said...

I had about the same reaction to this one. It was one of the first things I traded off on paperbackswap.

Joanne said...

Meh... sounds like a wanker. The author, not you lol!

Ladytink_534 said...

Lol, I can imagine you yelling at the audiobook easily because I do the same all the time! Love your rant/ review for this one.

chartroose said...

Is heroification a word? If it is, it shouldn't be. Also, did he mention that Columbus went crazy and died painfully of end-stage syphillis, or that he and his crew "introduced" syphillis to the native Americans? Did he mention that? Did he? Huh? Huh? Huh?

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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