These Truths: A History of the United States

These Truths: A History of the United States

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
ISBN:9780393635249
Format Type:

About Jill Lepore

Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History, Harvard College Professor, and chair of Harvard's History and Literature Program. She is also a staff writer at The New Yorker.



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    These Truths: A History of the United States Reviews

  • 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. ...

  • 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....

  • 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...

  • Mark Burris

    By too many reviewers this book has been held up as a 1-volume history of America, from Columbus to Trump. Actually, it's much more of a history of ideas, specifically of the founding and guiding of "...

  • Nadine Jones

    Oof ... i want to read this, but ... 960 pages?! ...

  • Marks54

    I heartily recommend that people interested in American History - thoughtful American History - read this book. It is a well-written, thoughtful, and enlightening statement on the history of the US fr...

  • Avid

    It’s probably a little early for me to render an opinion - i’m only 12% into the book - but i really want to encourage others to read this. I started highlighting key passages, phrases, quotes, et...