History Lessons

How Textbooks from Around the World Portray U.S. History

The widely contrasting approaches to U.S. history that can be found in the textbooks of other nations

“The American invaders . . . accompanied by their puppets, finally waged the war. . . . The bastards who crossed the 38th parallel at dawn were stoking the flames of war, jumping around like mad men, yearning to invade the North.” —North Korean textbook on the Korean War

History Lessons offers a lighthearted and fascinating challenge to the biases we bring to our understanding of American history. The subject of widespread attention when it was first published in 2004—including a full front-page review in the Washington Post Book World and features on NPR’s Talk of the Nation and the History Channel—this book gives us a glimpse into classrooms across the globe, where opinions about the United States are first formed.

Heralded as “timely and important” (History News Network) and “shocking and fascinating” (New York Times), History Lessons includes selections from Russia, France, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Canada, and others, covering such events as the American Revolution, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Iran hostage crisis, and the Korean War, providing an alternative history of the United States from the Viking explorers to the post–Cold War era.

By juxtaposing starkly contrasting versions of the historical events we take for granted, History Lessons affords us a sometimes hilarious, often sobering look at what the world learns about America’s past.


“A valiant attempt to shed light on the United States’ biggest obstacle to improved relations with the shrinking world beyond our borders: our uniquely stubborn insularity.”
San Diego Union-Tribune
“A brilliant idea.”
Foreign Affairs
“A provocative, timely and surprisingly readable book.”
The Washington Post Book World

Books by these authors

Not Written in Stone
Learning and Unlearning American History Through 200 Years of Textbooks

Kyle Ward

History in the Making
An Absorbing Look at How American History Has Changed in the Telling over the Last 200 Years

Kyle Ward

Goodreads Reviews