The book brings together outstanding historians who draw on rich, often surprising recent research by themselves and others to present a much more complicated and less congratulatory picture of many of the most contentious issues in the nation’s history. Moreover, these essays treat readers to wonderfully accessible, jargon-free historical writing ... Interestingly, almost all of the essays depart in a significant way from the premise laid out by Kruse and Zelizer — that trafficking in untruths and spinning myths about the past in service of a political agenda are products of the Trump years.
Resurrects both fading pundits and flagrant, largely forgotten falsehoods ... While any refutation of a myth needs to name some myth spreaders, the book’s best essays operate on their own terms ... It’s tough to identify this book’s target audience. Progressives already agree with much of what’s written in these pages, and the Right, having embraced the identity politics it supposedly reviles, is apt to dismiss anything written by its contributors.
In its attempt to explode particular myths, however, Myth America engages in its own mythmaking. The book fundamentally misunderstands the crises facing the U.S. and the world. By implying that misinformation is the principal cause of the partisan rancor, violence, and general dysfunction that mark our current political moment, the collection obscures our much bigger problems. And by localizing the threat of misinformation and disinformation almost exclusively within certain far-right segments of the conservative movement and the Republican Party, Myth America absolves not only other stripes of conservatism, but also the milquetoast technocratic liberalism that helped set the stage for this moment. It’s not a total wash ... But the political project that birthed Myth America is ultimately a dead end—one that will only reproduce and exacerbate our present crises.
Prominent historians offer keenly insightful essays that reveal the true and often complex history of America ... The book’s editors are aware that they haven’t covered every myth in U.S. history, but these essays still succeed in bringing important facts to our current historical debates. The footnotes alone make great reading.
Some essays are especially compelling... However, too many of the essays are slapdash, and the text has no center. Contributors often fail to adequately explain how myths originate in kernels of fact and, more importantly, what human needs they satisfy, and the myths they evaluate are mostly those of today’s right wing ... The result is a work that, lacking careful editorial oversight, is less coherent and credible than its serious purpose warrants—or as incisive as we would expect from its esteemed contributors.