The New Yorker writer and Harvard professor offers a sweeping interrogation of the American experiment—from Columbus to Trump—asking if the nation's history has upheld or belied its Constitutional "truths" of political equality, natural rights, and the sovereignty of the people.
It isn’t until you start reading it that you realize how much we need a book like this one at this particular moment ... It tries to take in almost everything, an impossible task, but I’d be hard-pressed to think she could have crammed more into these 932 highly readable pages ... It’s a big sweeping book, a way for us to take stock at this point in the journey, to look back, to remind us who we are and to point to where we’re headed. This is not an account of relentless progress. It’s much subtler and darker than that. It reminds us of some simple facts so much in the foreground that we must revisit them ... Lepore panders a little to liberal sensibilities ... But she is withering about the New Left, and liberalism’s turn toward elitism and identity politics. And she highlights truths that are usually dim-lit ... This is not an account conservatives will hate. She’s brilliant at times ... Lepore is also a writer. This book is aimed at a mass audience, driven by anecdote and statistic, memoir and photograph, with all the giants of American history in their respective places. There wasn’t a moment when I struggled to keep reading ... There are moments, however, when you wince at the purple prose ... But these are quibbles. We need this book. Its reach is long, its narrative fresh and the arc of its account sobering to say the least. This is not Whig history. It is a classic tale of a unique country’s astonishing rise and just-as-inevitable fall.
She scours the archives for fresh insights on topics other historians thought were tapped. Her writing is gutsy, lyrical and expressive ... Ranging from European settlement to Trumpian tweets, These Truths is a perceptive and necessary contribution to understanding the American condition of late. History in Lepore’s nimble hands is more than the telling of tales. It is probed and analyzed and dislodged from the past, presented as a force that resonates in the present ... She presents an honest history, one that searches for evidence and answers ... Some historians shy from presenting the American experience as the story of progress. Lepore seems not so bashful. For nearly every low point in the nation’s undulating past there followed an upswing, often involving a hero, although frequently someone other than the traditional star-spangled savior ... It captures the fullness of the past, where hope rises out of despair, renewal out of destruction, and forward momentum out of setbacks. Lepore points vividly to the true source of American exceptionalism, people who step from the pages and reaffirm your love of country.
... a piquant, provocative and dazzling history of America. Like Thomas Paine, she writes with fury, flash, and flourish ... As she generalizes, Ms. Lepore sometimes gets ahead of her skis ... Far more often, however, Ms. Lepore’s analysis, which is grounded in dissatisfaction with liberalism as well as conservatism, is compelling ... Most compelling is Ms. Lepore’s documentation of conflicts over truth throughout U.S. history.