Showcases innovative approaches to the major—mostly domestic—events of the recent American past, while providing ample historical grounding for comprehending the nation's current state of division and despair ... Kruse and Zelizer write their eminently readable book in a single, clear voice -- no easy task for joint authors ... at times reads like a textbook. But its timeliness and valuable insights will ensure that it will receive a wide readership outside of upper-level college history courses ... Kruse and Zelizer reject polemics and heated language in favor of a prose style that is judicious and fair, and at times, overly anodyne.
Fault Lines started as a series of lectures by Kruse and Zelizer offered at Princeton. Judging from the resulting book, the class was no doubt a wonderful introduction to a critical era in our history. Even for those who lived through these events, Fault Lines gives brilliant context to help us understand how Americans have become so fragmented and rigid in our beliefs.
Doesn’t accomplish their goal. They recount lots of the headline-making events, but their narrative tells us only that Americans became increasingly divided and embittered, not why they did. History, and especially narrowly political history of the kind presented here, is not equipped to answer the question they put to it. Political controversies are mainly the manifestations of warring preconceptions and worldviews long in the making. Examining the controversies by themselves won’t tell you much about their origins or meaning ... One expects academic historians to lean leftward in their judgments...But Messrs. Kruse and Zelizer present themselves as uncommitted, objective historians even as they portray one dispute after another as if it were largely or wholly the result of the stupidity, bigotry or arrogance of Republican officeholders and their allies ... Messrs. Kruse and Zelizer miss perhaps the most relevant fault line of our time: the line between disdainful elites who equate reality with their own interpretations and everybody else.
... Kruse and Zelizer do an admirable job of creating a narrative out of the chaotic events of the recent past according to the themes of crisis, consolidation, and polarization ... The book is most valuable, however, in its assessment of conservative mobilization since the 1970s and the ways in which such 'narrowcasting' has deployed various forms of media in stoking the flames of cultural division as a form of electoral politics. In fact, Kruse and Zelizer could have foregrounded the culture wars even more in their analyses instead of assuming their existence as part of the socio-political backdrop of the period ... Thanks to Kruse and Zelizer, we now know how and why [Steve Bannon's tactics] worked from within our divided present, an age that pits citizens against one another seemingly in a form of all-out war.
Fault Lines is a comprehensive portrait of American history over the last half-century that ignores the nation’s changing place in the increasingly globalized world ... The authors’ scholarship adheres to the convention that the invocation of history is drawing on news reports, first-person accounts, government data, and quotes from other academics ... While suggestive, the authors’ storytelling would have been significantly enhanced if they had ground their tale in the lived experiences of real people ... More troubling, Kruse and Zelizer fail to consider the profound changes in the nation’s place in the world order over the last half-century ... Reading past the exhaustive information carefully collected in Fault Lines one is left with a perception for some scholars the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Clear, lively ... the narrative takes on an increasingly leftist slant as the authors minimize or omit the left's contributions to the widening divide, creating the impression that it was largely conservatives who were perpetuating an atmosphere of obstructionism and division ... he authors posit no overarching theories of how all this came about, nor do they offer a path forward to a better place ... A left-leaning but readable, comprehensive history of the political and cultural trends that continue to erode any sense of American national unity.
The bedrock of the text is a readable, well-paced history ... Their analysis is thoughtful and credible, but political partisans who have benefited from the divisive atmosphere will be unconvinced that much of what is covered is actually a problem.