Advanced Placement United States History
Mr. Ed Forté
1 December 2010
To America: Personal Reflections of an Historian by Stephen Ambrose vs. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen
History can be interpreted in many different ways, and has been, by many different people, who all have different views on politics and economics. Some authors try to change the audience’s opinions, some try to enhance them. Authors have different purposes for writing, different biases and ideas, different research and documentation as well. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen and To America: Personal Reflections by an Historian by Stephen Ambrose are perfect examples of two very different books about essentially the same subject. While Loewen is a democrat, and Ambrose is a republican, not only are their philosophies and ideas different, the authors present the ideas in totally different fashions and with different audiences in mind. James W. Loewen and Stephen E. Ambrose have two distinctively different writing styles, political preferences and purposes when writing. Loewen’s Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong is democratic, liberal, and written in textbook style writing. In contrast, Stephen Ambrose’s book, America: Personal Reflections by an Historian, is republican, conservative and written with personal anecdotes and a warm tone, as if a grandfather was telling you the stories. In Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, Loewen presented a lot of new, surprising, information on well known subjects. These new facts were supposed to sway the reader’s opinion on the subject being presented from what is popular to believe, to what is the “real” truth. Loewen presented surprising facts about Helen Keller and her political preferences, Christopher Columbus and who actually discovered America, and how some textbooks are have hidden racism and antiracism within the book. America: Personal Reflections by an Historian was written to comment on history and certain events, and the author’s experiences learning about them. Both books focus on certain events, or narrow subjects, but each chapter is a completely new subject. Ambrose interjects his personal experiences and opinions on subjects like Ulysses S. Grant and the Transcontinental Railroad, which the facts are supplied by the author himself, the author’s mentors, and other famous texts and records. Most evidence for Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong is found in documents such as newspaper articles, from both current times and archived materials, as well as books. The information is documented in the back of the book in Notes by the author along with explanations for the use of some phrases and words. Loewen uses many secondary sources, such as textbooks and analyses. Most evidence from America: Personal Reflections by an Historian is also a lot of secondary sources, but many primary sources as well. Ambrose tells many personal anecdotes about the subject and many opinions and stories his mentors and professors shared with him. James Loewen and Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong have a completely different purpose than America: Personal Reflections by an Historian, by Stephen Ambrose, but the two books have overlapping documentation and research.
Both America: Personal Reflections by an Historian and Lies my Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong are presented in a somewhat logical manner, but in different ways. James W. Loewen wrote his book by focusing on one subject for an entire chapter and then moving on to the next subject and another chapter. He had the subjects go in chronological order and includes many pictures, charts and graphs to help the...