MixedThe NationAs the title suggests, Wineapple is more interested in the impeachers and the trial than in the larger political stakes of the fight; for her, the whole matter is often quite literally a drama of personalities ... it continues in this vein, presenting Johnson’s impeachment as a national tragedy, albeit one with elements of farce. In a series of very short chapters—some only seven pages long—she lays out the historical background, the impeachment process, the trial, and the verdict, weaving essential information in and around brief character sketches and colorful quotations from the key players. Wineapple’s mode of narration offers an engrossing play-by-play account of the action, but at points it is not entirely suited to the task of providing the context and nuance needed to understand Johnson’s trial. His virtually Trumpian mode of braying and baiting political speech comes through loud and clear, as do all manner of personality conflicts that Wineapple sees as bearing on the outcome. But readers might have a more difficult time grasping the scope and scale of the historical problem between Congress and the president that brought them to the point of impeachment in the first place.
MixedThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)... clear in purpose and elegant in design, although at almost 800 pages it tests any reader’s patience ... organization conveys Lepore’s signature strength as a writer, which is the capacity to distil complex arguments ... doubles as \'an old fashioned civics book\', as Lepore herself says. But a civics book is not the most interesting model for history-writing, whatever its utility. The framework of ideals and their betrayal holds the pieces together, but in an increasingly predictable way...There is surprisingly little Native American history...Instead it is African American history that provides the scaffolding ...But however much she owes to them, her history of the United States is strikingly devoid of a critique of the racial capitalism and liberalism their positions involved ... For all the wide-ranging knowledge on display in These Truths, Lepore’s consistent lack of interest in matters of political economy is telling. Slavery is a moral outrage but not a system of labour exploitation or capital accumulation. There is liberalism and democracy, illiberalism and white nationalism, but there is no capitalism in either equation. There are foundational American ideals and there is a history of lapses or failures or exclusions or omissions. But there is no structural relationship between the two ... The first half of the book has such a delightful richness of detail and cast of characters that the set pieces merge seamlessly with the rest ... For all its length and detail what These Truths offers is quite transparently a history of the present, a prehistory of now.
PositiveThe NationIn The Slave’s Cause, she offers nearly 750 impassioned pages for considering abolitionism as a longstanding progressive force in American life ... Sinha’s history of the abolition movement is rich and comprehensive, even to a fault... for the most part, the drama of human struggle in the movement gets buried beneath the book’s encyclopedic level of detail. Sinha’s default narrative device is the summary list; her book thrums with ideas and arguments, but only the committed reader will stick it out.\