These Truths: A History of the United States

These Truths: A History of the United States Review

In the most ambitious one-volume American history in decades, award-winning historian and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore offers a magisterial account of the origins and rise of a divided nation, an urgently needed reckoning with the beauty and tragedy of American history.

Written in elegiac prose, Lepore’s groundbreaking investigation places truth itself—a devotion to facts, proof, and evidence—at the center of the nation’s history. The American experiment rests on three ideas—"these truths," Jefferson called them—political equality, natural rights, and the sovereignty of the people. And it rests, too, on a fearless dedication to inquiry, Lepore argues, because self-government depends on it. But has the nation, and democracy itself, delivered on that promise?

These Truths tells this uniquely American story, beginning in 1492, asking whether the course of events over more than five centuries has proven the nation’s truths, or belied them. To answer that question, Lepore traces the intertwined histories of American politics, law, journalism, and technology, from the colonial town meeting to the nineteenth-century party machine, from talk radio to twenty-first-century Internet polls, from Magna Carta to the Patriot Act, from the printing press to Facebook News.

Along the way, Lepore’s sovereign chronicle is filled with arresting sketches of both well-known and lesser-known Americans, from a parade of presidents and a rogues’ gallery of political mischief makers to the intrepid leaders of protest movements, including Frederick Douglass, the famed abolitionist orator; William Jennings Bryan, the three-time presidential candidate and ultimately tragic populist; Pauli Murray, the visionary civil rights strategist; and Phyllis Schlafly, the uncredited architect of modern conservatism.

Americans are descended from slaves and slave owners, from conquerors and the conquered, from immigrants and from people who have fought to end immigration. "A nation born in contradiction will fight forever over the meaning of its history," Lepore writes, but engaging in that struggle by studying the past is part of the work of citizenship. "The past is an inheritance, a gift and a burden," These Truths observes. "It can’t be shirked. There’s nothing for it but to get to know it."

Title:These Truths: A History of the United States
Edition Language:English

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Ryan Boissonneault

    In an age of political polarization, Jill Lepore reminds us that there has never been an age without political polarization. The faintest familiarity with United States history should convince you tha...

  • Mehrsa

    It's hard to write a history of the United States from the beginning to now. Lepore is perfectly suited for the task --she's a great historian and a great writer. The best thing about this American hi...

  • Ilana

    Oof. This is a very, very good book. Difficult at times, depressing at others, always well-written, well-put together. ...

  • Raymond

    "To study the past is to unlock the prison of the present.""The past is an inheritance, a gift and a burden.""To write something down is to make a fossil record of a mind." -Jill LeporeHistory lovers ...

  • Peter Tillman

    960 pages! Which gives one pause. But she is such a good writer....A good review, at NYRB:https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/10...Excerpt:"... at the time of Christopher Columbus’s voyage, Lepore no...

  • Mike

    A pessimistic history that runs close to 1000 pages. Of course America has committed sins, but are there any positives to be found? According to Lepore, very, very few....

  • Peter Mcloughlin

    Lepore wrote this book in the wake of 2016 and it shows in the narrative arc. The history starts out as the usually admiring but ambivalent tale told by a liberal historian. Accounts of discovery and...

  • Socraticgadfly

    This book has been heavily touted.That makes it all the more disconcerting to see an error as early as page 8 and a whopper to boot. Indeed, beyond that as representative of numerous errors of fact, t...

  • Jeremy Neely

    I learned something on every page and thought “I wish I had written that!” much more frequently. It’s a stunning thing, to produce a single volume of American history this sweeping and compellin...

  • Richard Subber

    Jill Lepore makes it easy to read authoritative accounts of our history as a nation. She is already a venerable historian.These Truths offers two things that I crave when I’m reading/learning histor...