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Jim Loewen

James W. Loewen is a sociologist.  The New Press has just brought out new paperbacks of Loewen's bestseller, Lies My Teacher Told Me, and Sundown Towns, about places that were/are all-white on purpose. 



  • Let Our Seniors Go

    by Jim Loewen

    Our prisons bulge with too many old people, mostly black, put there with too long prison terms, for violent crimes like murder and rape.

  • The CIA Has a Museum?

    by Jim Loewen

    The CIA never tells about it, but one of their own confirmed it. It's a mystery worthy of the agency.

  • Scalping Columbus

    by Jim Loewen

    "Some of my stories are total fabrications disguised as the truth."--Fortunate Eagle

  • Revising the SAT To Make It Even Worse

    by Jim Loewen

    Happily, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) - the folks who bring us the SAT - have heard the increasing protests against their product. But ...

  • Wabash Cannonball

    by Jim Loewen

    "Wabash Cannonball" is a light-hearted yet serious country-music song. It celebrates a train that went past my house at the southern edge of Decatur, Illinois, throughout my childhood. Maybe for that reason, my father bought Roy Acuff’s recording of it shortly after Columbia’s invention of the “LP” (long-playing record). I’ve heard this song since about 1950. I sang it myself – in public – in 2009. Now, I cannot get it out of my head.

    Remembering Mark Twain’s famous short story "Punch, Brothers, Punch!", about the man who could not get a catchy jingle out of his head until he infected another person with it, in desperation, I turn to you. In the process of my passing the "Wabash Cannonball" on to you, we might enjoy a little railroad history together, perhaps a sort of baseball story, and even a bit of economic history from the 1890s.

    Like several other railroads, the Wabash connected Chicago to St. Louis. It also went to Detroit and Kansas City. Perhaps its #2 claim to fame (after the song) was that its freight trains went fast, often averaging 55 and even 60 MPH. On many other railroads, then and now, freight trains trundle(d) along at 40 or even 20 MPH.


  • The Nature (or is it Nurture) of Color

    by Jim Loewen

    Years ago, when I was teaching sociology at the University of Vermont, a colleague introduced me to a classroom exercise that he found useful for showing students gender differences.

  • New Opposition to Old Sports Mascots

    by Jim Loewen

    On February 7, 2013, the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) hosted a day-long seminar, "Racist Stereotypes in American Sports." The handout they used to promote the show paired two graphic images:  a stereotypical black doll on a base saying "Not. Cool." paired with the stereotypical Cleveland Indian mascot on a base saying "Go Tribe!" It made a stunning impact. So did the symposium, getting considerable attention from the Washington Post, including the entire front page of its free "Express" edition the next morning.


  • At War With Art

    by Jim Loewen

    “The Civil War and American Art,” the current exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, marks the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. After it closes in late April, the show will travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York for most of the rest of 2013. To complement the show, the Smithsonian has published, in conjunction with Yale University Press, a beautiful companion volume that includes many images not on display in the galleries and several chapters of commentary. The exhibit and book are an occasion not only to showcase some fascinating art, but also to clear up the misconceptions that many Americans still hold about the period. Unfortunately, both squander that opportunity.


  • Mitch Daniels: Friend or Foe to Academic Freedom?

    by Jim Loewen

    On January 18, 2013, Michael Gerson, formerly George W. Bush’s speechwriter, wrote an op-ed bemoaning Mitch Daniels’s retirement from politics. He called Daniels “arguably the most ambitious, effective conservative governor in America” and was proud that Daniels had decreased state government by 6,800 jobs, ended mandatory union dues, and privatized a toll road. “Daniels is just the sort of leader most needed in a Republican revival,” Gerson proclaimed. He concluded, in sorrow, “The best Democratic politician in America is about to take his oath as president of the United States. The best Republican politician will soon be president of Purdue.”  From personal experience, here’s another side to Mitch Daniels.


  • "The Other Civil War": Howard Zinn, Abraham Lincoln, Lerone Bennett, Stephen Spielberg, and Me

    by Jim Loewen

    Two years ago Michael Signorelli, an editor at Harper/Collins, asked me to write an introduction to a little book that Harper/Collins was spinning off from Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. It would include chapters 9, on the Civil War and Reconstruction, and 10, "The Other Civil War," about the class warfare of the late nineteenth century. A marketing ploy to tie in with the sesquicentennial, it would carry "The Other Civil War" as its title. I had just written the introductions to the documents in The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader, so I had been thinking about the issues Zinn addresses. Besides, my name alone would convince some bookstore browsers to buy the little volume, Signorelli said.

    No stranger to marketing ploys and always susceptible to flattery, I agreed to write the introduction. I warned Signorelli, however, that I was not a Zinn partisan; my introduction would probably include some negatives as well as positives. The editor assured me that would pose no problem. I set to work.