The title, Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, is
a quite shocking. To most students, textbooks are the "bibles" of that study, whether it is science or history.
To think that a writer would knowingly put false statements in his book is almost unthinkable. After
reading James W. Loewen's book, I now think otherwise. He points out many details that the standard
textbook either forgot or got wrong. In this report, I will review chapters 2 and 4, and analyze them to see if
the author proved his thesis. I will also compare his writings to the material I learned in my textbook.
We all honor Christopher Columbus on his birthday, October 12. And why not. He did discover
America. Didn't he? Not according to Loewen, who asserts that many people and civilizations reached
America before Columbus. He also offers another version of the Spanish conquest and Columbus. How do
we know that other civilizations were there before Columbus? There are a number of reasons. Henry the
Navigator, who is supposed to have gotten his ideas from the Egyptians and Phoenicians, taught Columbus.
This supports the conclusion that if the Egyptians and Phoenicians did give information to Henry, then they
must have been to America themselves and passed on information to them.
Take, for example, the Romans. There have been repeated cases of Roman coins being found in the
Americas, producing the theory that Roman boats had reached the Americas. There are also maps that were
found in Turkey, dated 1513, and are reported to have been based on maps from Alexander the Great's
library, which have sketches of the coastline of South America and Antarctica. Also, two Indians became
major curiosities in 60 B.C because they had been shipwrecked. This bit of information tells us that perhaps
the Indians were beginning to make their own explorations.
And let us not forget the Vikings. Textbooks minimize their role in American history by saying they
touched land briefly and then left without knowing what they found. That is simply not true. The Vikings
knew they found new land, and they tried to settle it by bringing almost 165 settlers with livestock and
supplies. This settlement led by Gudrid survived for two years until conflicts with Native Americans
caused them to abandon their settlement. But this settlement had some lasting effects. For the next 350
years Vikings would export wood from Vineland. Some historians believe that the Norse did not stop there.
They might have gone as far down as present day North Carolina. Columbus may have gotten the records
of these voyages when he visited Iceland in 1477 as he is reported to have done.
Other cultures not commonly known for explorations in the Americas were Africa and Asia. The best-kept
records of such voyages are those of the Afro-Phoenicians. They may have sailed from either Morocco or
Egypt and reached the coast of Mexico in 750 B.C. There are stone heads found on the eastern coast of
Mexico, which are similar to ones found in West Africa. In addition, many of the Indian cultures made
small stone sculptures of Negroid faces, which suggests African nations landed in that region. When
Columbus reached Haiti, some of the spears had "guanine". Guanine is a combination of gold, silver, and
copper. The gold alloy, guanine, is also found in West Africa, where the name guanine was used for this
metal. The Indians said they got this "guanine" from black traders. Even traces of diseases common in
Africa were found in dead Indians in Brazil. Balboa and his crew made reports of seeing black slaves in
Indian villages. When asked, the Indians said they captured them fr!
om a nearby black town. Like the voyages of the Norse, the maps and plans from these voyages could also
have been used in planning Columbus's voyage to America.
Loewen also discusses that Columbus might not have been the poor but kind and peace-loving explorer we
all think he was. Loewen offers facts that make Columbus not only look mean but down near tyrannical
towards the Haitians. Columbus had many different claims on his background. One is his father was a poor
and struggling Genoese weaver while another source goes on to say he was son