Cover image for These truths : a history of the United States
These truths : a history of the United States
Lepore, Jill, 1966- author.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Physical Description:
xx, 932 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
The nature of the past -- The rulers and the ruled -- Of wars and revolutions -- The constitution of a nation -- A democracy of numbers -- The soul and the machine -- Of ships and shipwrecks -- The face of battle -- Of citizens, persons, and people -- Efficiency and the masses -- A constitution of the air -- The brutality of modernity -- A world of knowledge -- Rights and wrongs -- Battle lines -- America, disrupted -- The question addressed.
"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"-- Provided by publisher.


Call Number
Material Type
Alfred Box of Books Library 1 973 LEP New NonFiction Book
Corning - Southeast Steuben County Library 1 973 LEP New NonFiction Book
Elmira - Steele Memorial Library 1 973 LEP New NonFiction Book
Hornell Public Library 1 973 LEP Adult NonFiction Book
Horseheads Free Library 1 973 LEP New NonFiction Book
Wellsville - David A. Howe Public Library 1 973 LEP New NonFiction Book

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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."

Author Notes

Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper '41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and a staff writer at The New Yorker. She has written several books including Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin, The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History, The Secret History of Wonder Woman, Joe Gould's Teeth, and These Truths: A History of the United States.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Harvard professor, New Yorker staff writer, and best-selling author Lepore (Joe Gould's Teeth, 2016) has written an ambitious and provocative attempt to interpret American history as an effort to fulfill and maintain certain fundamental principles. These truths, as enunciated by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, include political equality, natural (or creator-given) rights, and the ultimate sovereignty of the people. Though chronologically structured, this is more of a civics lesson than a narrative history. Throughout this journey from Columbus to the present, Lepore consistently stresses the often-anguishing contradictions between the ideals and realities of American life. A nation born in liberty accepted the enslavement of millions. The hope that technological progress would enhance freedom was accompanied by terrible economic exploitation in eighteenth-century mines and factories. But this is not a one-sided carping over national sins. Using a series of beautifully written vignettes, Lepore captures the nobility of the individuals and various movements that fought to narrow the gap between principles and everyday life. Of course, generally speaking, people don't live their lives as if they are part of a moral struggle or social experiment. Still, in the age of Trump, in which many long-accepted verities seem to be crumbling, Lepore's far-reaching interpretative history demands serious consideration. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Lepore is a historian with wide appeal, and this comprehensive work will answer readers' questions about who we are as a nation.--Jay Freeman Copyright 2018 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The principles of the Declaration of Independence get betrayed, fought over, and sometimes fulfilled in this probing political history of the Unites States. Harvard historian and New Yorker writer Lepore (Book of Ages) explores how ideals of liberty, equality, and happiness have fueled conflicts from the colonial era, when American slave owners protested taxation without representation as a form of slavery, to the struggles of African-Americans, women, immigrants, and workers for freedom, votes, and civil rights. Her viewpoint is progressive-she spotlights neglected heroes like George Washington's runaway slaves and People's Party orator Mary Lease-but she puts forth evenhanded assessments of latter-day partisan wrangles, castigating both the alt-right and the "sanctimonious accusations of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia" of the campus left. Lepore sometimes strains for poetic, even psychedelic, imagery-her impression of the Civil War, with "giant armies wielding unstoppable machines, as if monsters with scales of steel had been let loose on the land to maul and maraud, and to eat even the innocent," feels like a Transformers movie-and she leaves out much historical detail to concentrate on politics, constitutional struggles, and evolving ideologies. The payoff: she unifies a complex and conflicted history into a coherent, focused, engrossing narrative with insights that resonate for modern readers. Photos. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Providing historical context for national events, Lepore (history, Harvard Univ.; The Whites of Their Eyes; The Secret History of Wonder Woman) delivers a sweeping, balanced, and finely wrought narrative history of the United States. The vaulting ambition of the book is matched by the elegance and dry wit of Lepore's writing and careful rigor of her scholarship. She expertly marshals incidents, statistics, and analysis, resulting in a chronicle at once panoramic and richly detailed-like a giant medieval tapestry. Thematically, Lepore pegs her narrative to the great truths: equality, popular sovereignty, and consent of the governed. Those truths, the author contends, formed the basis of the American experiment and have been at the crux of most of the controversies and struggles the nation has faced. Lepore is particularly clear-eyed in documenting the United State's stumbling and often shameful record in addressing racial, gender, and economic inequality. Minibiographies-often of lesser-known figures, primarily women and people of color-are sprinkled throughout, adding texture and personality to this important work. VERDICT This thought-provoking and fascinating book stands to become the definitive one-volume U.S. history for a new generation. [See Prepub Alert, 3/26/18.]-Christopher Myers, Lake Oswego P.L., OR © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Question Statedp. xi
Part 1 The Idea (1492-1799)
1 The Nature of the Pastp. 3
2 The Rulers and the Ruledp. 31
3 Of Wars and Revolutionsp. 72
4 The Constitution of a Nationp. 109
Part 2 The People (1800-1865)
5 A Democracy of Numbersp. 153
6 The Soul and the Machinep. 189
7 Of Ships and Shipwrecksp. 232
8 The Face of Battlep. 272
Part 3 The State (1866-1945)
9 Of Citizens, Persons, and Peoplep. 311
10 Efficiency and the Massesp. 361
11 A Constitution of the Airp. 421
12 The Brutality of Modernityp. 472
Part 4 The Machine (1946-2016)
13 A World of Knowledgep. 521
14 Rights and Wrongsp. 589
15 Battle Linesp. 646
16 America, Disruptedp. 719
Epilogue: The Question Addressedp. 785
Acknowledgmentsp. 791
Notesp. 793
Illustration Creditsp. 881
Indexp. 889

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