Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  James W. Loewen  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1942 in Decatur, Il

-- Website --
-- James W. Loewen on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Loewen grew up in Decatur, Illinois and graduated from MacArthur High School in 1960.

Biographical and Professional Information

Loewen is an acclaimed historian and best-selling author whose mission is to overturn myths and misinformation that too often pass for U.S. history. A highly sought-after speaker and author, he engages audiences with intelligence and humor, honing in on a range of topics encompassing U.S. history, multicultural education, civil rights, race relations, voting rights, law and social science.Loewen is the bestselling author of ''Lies My Teacher Told Me'' and ''Lies Across America''. He is a regular contributor to the History Channel's ''History Magazine'' and is a professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Vermont. He resides in Washington, D.C.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Mississippi: conflict & change
ISBN: 0394489640

Pantheon Books. 1974

A textbook which traces the history of Mississippi from prehistoric times until today, covering all areas of social life and concentrating on recent developments, especially the civil rights struggle and the search for social justice.

Lies My Teacher Told Me : Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong
ISBN: 0684818868

Touchstone. 1996

A national best-seller shows how the history textbooks used in the nation's classrooms are marred by reactionary patriotism and falsehoods and offers a revised chronicle of U.S. history that restores suppressed or ignored information. Reprint. 40,000 first printing.

Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension Of American Racism
ISBN: 156584887X

New Press, The. 2005

The explosive story of racial exclusion in the north, from the American Book Award-winning author of Lies My Teacher Told Me

As American as apple pie:
• Most suburbs in the United States were originally sundown towns.
• As part of the deepening racism that swept through the United States after 1890, town after town outside the traditional South became intentionally all-white, evicting their black populations with tactics that ranged from intimidation to outright violence.
• From Myakka City, Florida, to Kennewick, Washington, the nation is dotted with thousands of all-white towns that are (or were until recently) all-white on purpose. Sundown towns can be found in almost every state.

"Don't let the sun go down on you in this town." We equate these words with the Jim Crow South but, in a sweeping analysis of American residential patterns, award-winning and bestselling author James W. Loewen demonstrates that strict racial exclusion was the norm in American towns and villages from sea to shining sea for much of the twentieth century.

Weaving history, personal narrative, and hard-nosed analysis, Loewen shows that the sundown town was—and is—an American institution with a powerful and disturbing history of its own, told here for the first time. In Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, sundown towns were created in waves of violence in the early decades of the twentieth century, and then maintained well into the contemporary era.

Sundown Towns redraws the map of race relations, extending the lines of racial oppression through the backyard of millions of Americans—and lobbing an intellectual hand grenade into the debates over race and racism today.

Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong
ISBN: 074329629X

Touchstone. 2007

From the author of the national bestseller Lies My Teacher Told Me, the second myth-busting history book which focuses on the inaccuracies, myths, and lies that can be found at national landmarks and historical sites all across America.

In Lies Across America, James W. Loewen continues his mission, begun in the award-winning Lies My Teacher Told Me, of overturning the myths and misinformation that too often pass for American history. This is a one-of-a-kind examination of sites all over the country where history is literally written on the landscape, including historical markers, monuments, historic houses, forts, and ships. With entries drawn from each of the fifty states, Loewen reveals that:

  • The USS Intrepid, the “feel-good” war museum, celebrates its glorious service in World War II but nowhere mentions the three tours it served in Vietnam.
  • The Jefferson Memorial misquotes from the Declaration of Independence and skews Jefferson’s writings to present this conflicted slave owner as a near abolitionist.
  • Abraham Lincoln had been dead for thirty years when his birthplace cabin was built.

Lies Across America is a reality check for anyone who has ever sought to learn about America through the nation’s public sites and markers. Entertaining and enlightening, it is destined to change the way American readers see their country.

Teaching What Really Happened: How to Avoid the Tyranny of Textbooks and Get Students Excited About Doing History (Multicultural Education Series)
ISBN: 0807749915

Teachers College Press. 2009

In this follow-up to his landmark bestseller, Lies My Teacher Told Me, James Loewen continues to break silences and change our perspectives on U.S. history. Loewen takes history textbooks to task for their perpetuations of myth and their lack of awareness of today’s multicultural student audience (not to mention the astonishing number of “facts” they just get plain wrong).

“How did people get here?” “Why did Europe win?” “Why did the South secede?” In Teaching What Really Happened, Loewen goes beyond the usual textbook-dominated viewpoints to illuminate a wealth of intriguing, often hidden facts about America’s past. Calling for a new way to study history, this book will help readers move beyond traditional textbooks to tackle difficult but important topics, like the American Indian experience, slavery, and race relations. Throughout, Loewen shows time and again how “teaching what really happened” connects better with all kinds of students to get them excited about history.

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

Lecture topics include How History Keeps Us Racist, and What to Do About It Sundown Towns What they are, Where they are, and Why they matter Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong about Labor History and Social Class What History Books Don't Tell about Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and John Brown, and Why It Matters How American History in School and on the Landscape Demeans Native Americans Lies My Teacher Told Me Me About the Civil War Eurocentrism, Afrocentrism, and Multiculturalism