Lies Across America
is James W. Loewen
's 1999 follow-up
to his best-selling book Lies My Teacher Told Me
. In Lies Across America
, Loewen again seeks to correct oversights and inaccuracies in the American historical record
; this time, however, he is tackling historical markers
instead of history textbooks
Loewen deconstructs the history behind 95 markers representing all 50 American states, as well as the District of Columbia. While the monuments Loewen criticizes celebrate a myriad of people and events, a few key recurring themes can be observed: misrepresentation of the roles that Native Americans played in U.S. history, revisionist Civil War history (particularly in monuments raised by the United Daughters of the Confederacy) and slavery and race relations as a whole.
Not all of the monuments that Loewen mentions need correction. He speaks lovingly about the Lincoln Memorial and is particularly fond of a marker located in Bar Harbor, Maine which reads:
On this site in 1897 nothing happened
Loewen selects several of the monuments as candidates to be "toppled," meaning that citizens should use whatever means necessary to ensure that the markers and monuments are corrected. Some of these monuments, like Baton Rouge's "The Good Darky" memorial and a marker at the site of a fictional "horrible Indian massacre" in Almo, Idaho, according to Loewen, should be moved to museums and used to educate future generations. Other monuments, like Chicago's monument to the police officers who died during the Haymarket Square riots, have been moved to safe locations because the populace has toppled them repeatedly.
Like Lies My Teacher Told Me, Lies Across America is a gripping read. The pages drip with Loewen's conviction about his subject of choice -- Loewen was a professor of history at the University of Vermont, specializing in race relations. I picked up Lies My Teacher Told Me to pass the time waiting for a connecting flight at the start of my honeymoon. Without much hesitation, Lies Across America was purchased for the flight home.