cover image Lies My Teacher Told Me: A Graphic Adaptation

Lies My Teacher Told Me: A Graphic Adaptation

James Loewen and Nate Powell. New Press, $27.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-62097-703-3

“History is the only field in which the MORE courses students take, the STUPIDER they become,” according to this striking graphic adaptation by cartoonist Powell (the March series) of sociologist Loewen’s groundbreaking 1995 study, which challenged the prevailing version of American history taught in public schools. From elementary school mythology surrounding Christopher Columbus through the falsehoods, half-truths, and purposeful omissions that inform a typical student’s understanding of slavery, the Civil War, Vietnam, and post-9/11 political discourse, Loewen and Powell’s insightful and often irreverent approach upends standard narratives. They examine the underlying motivations and trends that informed and bolstered a Eurocentric and often idealized version of history—which never let the truth get in the way of a good story in favor of nationalism. Powell’s characteristically fluid art lends new depth to revisited figures including Helen Keller, known by most Americans solely for her disabilities and not for her radical activism, and abolitionist John Brown, condemned by U.S. history books as a mentally disturbed violent extremist rather than a dedicated social progressive. Long a favorite of radical educators, Loewen’s original text receives the vital and accessible adaptation it deserves. (Apr.)