Surprised by Joy
Kingdom, Power, & Glory

These Truths: A History of the United States

These Truths: A History of the United StatesThese Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thought the Introduction and first chapter were brilliant. Also the sections on the Populist and Progressive Movements and the chapter set during the Second World War. But others were more uneven. Any one volume national history obviously makes choices, skimming over some things and digging deeper into others.

Lepore's focus is our national pursuit of truth. In the Declaration Jefferson wrote, "we hold these truths to be self evident" and in the Federalist papers Hamilton wrote of America being a test of truths. From this frame she explores the nation's history, with much focus on communications technologies, journalism, and how we've viewed our history (though on this latter point, I feel she did less of that when she got into the twentieth century).

The final section on our own time is very chaotic, with a structure that is difficult to follow, as it is neither chronological nor clearly thematic. It was sad to read an American history that in the 1980's begins accounting for the rise of Donald Trump and then feels necessary to detail the post-9/11 conspiracy theories that he has participated in and which helped to explain his ascent. Yes, sadly, this is now part of the national story. And, of course, the book has a depressing ending. Plus, I thought the final paragraph so overwritten as to be comically absurd.

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