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These Truths: a History of the United States

de Jill Lepore

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
1,2233213,280 (4.32)161
"In the most ambitious one-volume American history in decades, award-winning historian Jill Lepore offers a magisterial account of the origins and rise of a divided nation. 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 dedication to inquiry, fearless and unflinching," writes Jill Lepore in a groundbreaking investigation into the American past that places truth itself at the center of the nation's history. In riveting prose, These Truths tells the story of America, beginning in 1492, to ask whether the course of events has proven the nation's founding truths, or belied them. "A nation born in contradiction, liberty in a land of slavery, sovereignty in a land of conquest, will fight, forever, over the meaning of its history," Lepore writes, finding meaning in those very contradictions as she weaves American history into a majestic tapestry of faith and hope, of peril and prosperity, of technological progress and moral anguish. A spellbinding chronicle filled with arresting sketches of Americans from John Winthrop and Frederick Douglass to Pauli Murray and Phyllis Schlafly, These Truths offers an authoritative new history of a great, and greatly troubled, nation"--… (més)
Afegit fa poc perhamboardman, Razeeb, biblioteca privada, rainerc, fernandie, PendergrassLib, jeannine.gluck, danharness
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» Mira també 161 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 32 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.
  fernandie | Sep 15, 2022 |
Essential. ( )
  Bruyere_C | Dec 2, 2021 |
Identifying the Formative Themes of Our History

Jill Lepore, the award-winning Harvard professor of history, has taken on a daunting task: writing a one-volume history of the U.S. And, happy to report, she has done an impressive job, producing a volume that thoughtful Americans should read.

However, before you do, you should be aware that, given its relative compactness, it is by no means a comprehensive history in the sense of a textbook, as Lepore herself points out. Rather, her history follows threads originating in Colonial America and the formulation of the United States Constitution, from the beginning to present day. She illustrates how these threads remain with us and how they have effected and are affected by politics, law, societal behavior, and technology.

These threads are the truths referenced in the title, the truths enumerated by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. As a refresher, the Declaration opens: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Our American history abounds with painful moments and terrible ironies, none more so than “all men are created equal.” From early settlement times, as Lepore shows, this wasn’t even an ideal, that is, until Colonial times and the advent of separation from England. Then it became a point in the Declaration. Of course, reality was that while we might profess the ideal of equality, not everybody was treated equally, not slaves, and not women. This segregation of those equal and those not quite so made it into the Constitution, where African-Americans counted for three-fifths of a white man and women were never mentioned or considered. The idea of equality became the most powerful and wrenching thread in our entire history. It broke the nation apart in the 1860s, it resulted in repressive Jim Crow laws straight through the 1960s, and it continues to divide us, maybe even more so in present time. If Lepore’s history possesses any one overriding strength, any reason for you to read it right now, then it is this thread, this destructive conflict between equal and unequal. To understand it fully, to appreciate what all the contention and discontent today is about, you really have to see how it unfolded and effected every aspect of American life.

Technology, another thread, plays an important role in modern U.S. life, what with robotics, communications, and the eradication and transformation of so many industries, particularly how we get our information and form our ideas. Lepore does a good job of illustrating technologies impact in modern times, but also throughout our history, in olden times when the printing press, the railroad, the telegraph , and radio were transformative technologies. Too, she explains how political through as evolved from the first day of the Republic to the present. Partisanship has been a bane through out our history; we even came to blows because of it. Today, it seems we’re ready again to battle in the aisles of Congress and on our main streets. Of particular interest for those wishing to better understand our present political situation, you’ll do no better than Chapter 13, A World of Knowledge.

How you regard Lepore’s casting of certain issues, like women’s rights, white supremacy, racism, corporatism, identity politics, and a range of other subjects will, to the point, depend on your political identity. It’s been that way in the past and it remains so now. And on that topic, let’s bring this recommendation to an end with a sample drawn from the final pages on the very idea of race and identity politics.

“Identity politics, by other names, goes all the way back to the founding of the Republic. The Constitution, which, for purposes of representation, counted some Americans as worth three-fifths of other Americans, rested on the politics of identity: white supremacy. ‘This Government was made by our fathers on the white basis,’ Stephen Douglas had said, debating Abraham Lincoln. ‘It was made by white men for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever.’ Lincoln, of course, disagreed.”

Why not turn off the cable bloviators, look away from your social networks, and devote several hours to learning a bit more about your country and how we turned out we have by reading These Truths at the start of the new year. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
Identifying the Formative Themes of Our History

Jill Lepore, the award-winning Harvard professor of history, has taken on a daunting task: writing a one-volume history of the U.S. And, happy to report, she has done an impressive job, producing a volume that thoughtful Americans should read.

However, before you do, you should be aware that, given its relative compactness, it is by no means a comprehensive history in the sense of a textbook, as Lepore herself points out. Rather, her history follows threads originating in Colonial America and the formulation of the United States Constitution, from the beginning to present day. She illustrates how these threads remain with us and how they have effected and are affected by politics, law, societal behavior, and technology.

These threads are the truths referenced in the title, the truths enumerated by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. As a refresher, the Declaration opens: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Our American history abounds with painful moments and terrible ironies, none more so than “all men are created equal.” From early settlement times, as Lepore shows, this wasn’t even an ideal, that is, until Colonial times and the advent of separation from England. Then it became a point in the Declaration. Of course, reality was that while we might profess the ideal of equality, not everybody was treated equally, not slaves, and not women. This segregation of those equal and those not quite so made it into the Constitution, where African-Americans counted for three-fifths of a white man and women were never mentioned or considered. The idea of equality became the most powerful and wrenching thread in our entire history. It broke the nation apart in the 1860s, it resulted in repressive Jim Crow laws straight through the 1960s, and it continues to divide us, maybe even more so in present time. If Lepore’s history possesses any one overriding strength, any reason for you to read it right now, then it is this thread, this destructive conflict between equal and unequal. To understand it fully, to appreciate what all the contention and discontent today is about, you really have to see how it unfolded and effected every aspect of American life.

Technology, another thread, plays an important role in modern U.S. life, what with robotics, communications, and the eradication and transformation of so many industries, particularly how we get our information and form our ideas. Lepore does a good job of illustrating technologies impact in modern times, but also throughout our history, in olden times when the printing press, the railroad, the telegraph , and radio were transformative technologies. Too, she explains how political through as evolved from the first day of the Republic to the present. Partisanship has been a bane through out our history; we even came to blows because of it. Today, it seems we’re ready again to battle in the aisles of Congress and on our main streets. Of particular interest for those wishing to better understand our present political situation, you’ll do no better than Chapter 13, A World of Knowledge.

How you regard Lepore’s casting of certain issues, like women’s rights, white supremacy, racism, corporatism, identity politics, and a range of other subjects will, to the point, depend on your political identity. It’s been that way in the past and it remains so now. And on that topic, let’s bring this recommendation to an end with a sample drawn from the final pages on the very idea of race and identity politics.

“Identity politics, by other names, goes all the way back to the founding of the Republic. The Constitution, which, for purposes of representation, counted some Americans as worth three-fifths of other Americans, rested on the politics of identity: white supremacy. ‘This Government was made by our fathers on the white basis,’ Stephen Douglas had said, debating Abraham Lincoln. ‘It was made by white men for the benefit of white men and their posterity forever.’ Lincoln, of course, disagreed.”

Why not turn off the cable bloviators, look away from your social networks, and devote several hours to learning a bit more about your country and how we turned out we have by reading These Truths at the start of the new year. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
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 "truths," and as such, it flows through the centuries with insight and perspective. Lepore's an excellent writer, building transitions and inserting humorous commentary that delighted this reader.

"Columbus widened the world, Gutenberg made it spin faster." (p. 13)
"Dewey ... proved about as good a campaigner as a pail of paint." (p. 541)

Ultimately, I came away from my reading depressed by the contradictions in our quest for the truths of freedom and equality, also reconsidering what for me were more the footnotes of history ... things like polls, progressivism, and Phyllis Schlafly.

"By 1992, more than four decades after it began, the Cold War, unimaginably, was over. Missile by missile, the silos began to close, their caves abandoned. The skies cleared. And the oceans rose." (p. 690)

Finally, this about Bill Clinton, who — at least indirectly — Lepore holds responsible for the rise of Fox News and the power of super-partisanship:
“A white southerner from a humble background, he appealed to the party’s old base. An Ivy League-educated progressive with a strong record on civil rights, he appealed to the party’s new base. And yet he was, all along, a rascal.” (p. 697) “In 1996, CNN had 60M subscribers; MSNBC, 25M; and Fox, 17M. Two years later, a news story broke that led to a 400% increase in Fox’s prime-time ratings.” (p. 708) “Clinton’s foolishness, irresponsibility, and recklessness in this affair was difficult to fathom.” (p. 709) ( )
  markburris | Jul 11, 2021 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 32 (següent | mostra-les totes)
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.
afegit per aprille | editaWashington 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.
afegit per aprille | editaNew York Times, Andrew Sullivan (Web de pagament) (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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"WE SAW NAKED PEOPLE," A BROAD-SHOULDERED SEA

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"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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"In the most ambitious one-volume American history in decades, award-winning historian Jill Lepore offers a magisterial account of the origins and rise of a divided nation. 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 dedication to inquiry, fearless and unflinching," writes Jill Lepore in a groundbreaking investigation into the American past that places truth itself at the center of the nation's history. In riveting prose, These Truths tells the story of America, beginning in 1492, to ask whether the course of events has proven the nation's founding truths, or belied them. "A nation born in contradiction, liberty in a land of slavery, sovereignty in a land of conquest, will fight, forever, over the meaning of its history," Lepore writes, finding meaning in those very contradictions as she weaves American history into a majestic tapestry of faith and hope, of peril and prosperity, of technological progress and moral anguish. A spellbinding chronicle filled with arresting sketches of Americans from John Winthrop and Frederick Douglass to Pauli Murray and Phyllis Schlafly, These Truths offers an authoritative new history of a great, and greatly troubled, nation"--

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973 — History and Geography North America United States

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