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These Truths: A History of the United States…

These Truths: A History of the United States (2018)

by Jill Lepore

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376542,623 (4.5)69



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Showing 5 of 5
Jill LePore's history of the United States is a tour du force and mandatory reading for anyone who wants to understand what is happening in this country today. She pulls no punches and skewers both Democrats and Republicans as well as political consultants, pollsters and anyone and everyone connected to the Internet. It has taken me several months to read this book, but I'm glad I stuck with it. It's just great. ( )
  etxgardener | Mar 2, 2019 |
These Truths is a comprehensive history of the United States from a political perspective, focused largely on who was in power and how they shaped the nation. But rather than idolizing these figures, Jill Lepore shows the far-reaching and sometimes unintended consequences of their actions. The essential questions Lepore aims to answer are these:
Can a political society really be governed by reflection and election, by reason and truth, rather than by accident and violence, by prejudice and deceit? Is there any arrangement of government—any constitution—by which it’s possible for a people to rule themselves, justly and fairly, and as equals, through the exercise of judgment and care? Or are their efforts, no matter their constitutions, fated to be corrupted, their judgment muddled by demagoguery, their reason abandoned for fury?

The book is organized in four parts covering major time periods: 1492-1799, 1800-1865, 1866-1945, and 1946-2016. While each part covers the major events that make up any American history textbook, where Lepore really shines is in making connections that put these events in greater context. She also candidly describes the flaws, mistakes, and sometimes corruption of the country’s leaders and systems of government, again providing a broader and more balanced view.

I came to These Truths in a time of despair for the future of the United States. The first three parts helped me understand that this country has always had its issues, from errors, omissions and incompetence to bigotry and hatred, in some respects not much different from today. But Part Four was more difficult to read, because Lepore’s analysis of “how we got here” during my lifetime was jarring, especially to the extent I was a participant. But that very discomfort is what makes this book required reading. ( )
1 vote lauralkeet | Feb 2, 2019 |
Lepore’s political history focuses on who was allowed to be part of the process of politics over the years, and on the epistemology of political knowledge as mediated by various sources. Benjamin Franklin's sister, who was never allowed to do the things her brother became famous for, shows up early on to set the tone. I thought making Phyllis Schlafly one of the major figures to emphasize how women’s activism has long been an important political force was a useful choice. I was less impressed by her recent history; if you’re going to say that many of Trump’s supporters aren’t racist (especially after a history structured by slavery and racism), you need to take a moment to define that. ( )
  rivkat | Jan 24, 2019 |
I read this as a review of American history, not expecting to learn much. And I didn't. There is little insight, and its coverage of recent events is very trendy (with far too much on the 2016 election). Yet i appreciated the review, and the choice of topics for focus. The writing is usually decent, with the exception of some horrendous similes. ( )
  breic | Dec 30, 2018 |
Wonderful book!! The author starts out quite early in our history and shows how
slavery screwed us from the beginning. At first thought that she would remain
with this theme, but she does not. In the later chapters, she explores computers, and elections and why the Right has grown. ( )
  annbury | Dec 12, 2018 |
Showing 5 of 5
Lepore doesn’t cop to her own biases. Nor does she argue which systems of government are more insidious than others, though she has no trouble denouncing American slavery, American racism, Jim Crow, segregation and the on-going, never ending war (or so it seems) against African Americans. ...

If I were a good liberal I might say that my criticism of the book does not detract from its glory, and that it’s a triumph of scholarship. I can’t say that. I won’t say it. These Truths has moments of glory, but it will not help us as a nation and as a people to cut though the lies and the fake news of the Trump era.
Those devoted to an honest reckoning with America’s past have their work cut out for them. Lepore’s book is a good place to start.
added by aprille | editWashington Post, H.W. Brands (Sep 20, 2018)
It isn’t until you start reading it that you realize how much we need a book like this one at this particular moment.

This book is aimed at a mass audience, driven by anecdote and statistic, memoir and photograph, with all the giants of American history in their respective places. There wasn’t a moment when I struggled to keep reading.

We need this book. Its reach is long, its narrative fresh and the arc of its account sobering to say the least. This is not Whig history. It is a classic tale of a unique country’s astonishing rise and just-as-inevitable fall.
added by aprille | editNew York Times, Andrew Sullivan (pay site) (Sep 14, 2018)
This vivid history is a must-read for anyone wrestling with today's toxic political environment.
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We must disenthrall ourselves,

and then we shall save our country.

- Abraham Lincoln, 1862
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captain from Genoa wrote in his diary, nearing land after weeks of staring at nothing but blue-black sea.
"To write something down doesn't make it true. But the history of truth is lashed to the history of writing like a mast to a sail. ....

To write something down is to make a fossil record of the mind. Stories are full of power and force; they seethe with meaning, with truth and lies, evasions and honesty." p12
...it has been the question ever since...Can a political society really be governed by reflection and election, by reason and truth, rather than by accident and violence, by prejudice and deceit?" (introduction)
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