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These Truths: A History of the United States

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  1,478 ratings  ·  325 reviews
In the most ambitious one-volume American history in decades, award-winning historian and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore offers a magisterial account of the origins and rise of a divided nation, an urgently needed reckoning with the beauty and tragedy of American history.

Written in elegiac prose, Lepore’s groundbreaking investigation places truth itself—a devotion to facts,
Hardcover, 933 pages
Published September 18th 2018 by W. W. Norton Company
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Dan Graser Yes that is incorrectly stated and seems to just be an editing error, because if you change the word "state" to "city" you have a completely correct…moreYes that is incorrectly stated and seems to just be an editing error, because if you change the word "state" to "city" you have a completely correct statement. Norfolk was excluded from the EP as it had been held by the Union starting in 1862 and the EP was issued at the start of 1863. The celebrations, (ironic though they were since the city was exempted from the action) in Norfolk at the time are well-documented including this (one among many) eyewitness account from the diaries of Isaac Handy:

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4.41  · 
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 ·  1,478 ratings  ·  325 reviews

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James Thane
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Jill Lepore's These Truths is a massive (932 pages) and beautifully-written new history of the United States from Columbus to the Age of Donald Trump. It raises the critically important question of whether a nation founded on the principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution can survive under the assault of the Internet, talk radio, twenty-four-hour cable "news," and all of the other maladies that now afflict the nation's democracy.

The depth of Lepore's research is
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
With this history I have told a story... (c)

🐬Just my unpopular opinion.

What's most interesting is that there isn't all that much history to speak about.
In all due seriousness, it has been what? 2 centuries? 3? Not quite.
Before doing the 'sweeping volumes of history', a country should live those volumes first.

The only good thing coming from this lack of historical tradition is that it should be very short and up to the point. It's easier to establish facts when the timetrack isn't too oversi
Ryan Boissonneault
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
In an age of political polarization, Jill Lepore reminds us that there has never been an age without political polarization. The faintest familiarity with United States history should convince you that political conflict has deep roots.

Some examples: the revolutionaries and loyalists fought vigorously over the issue of independence during the Revolutionary War; the Federalists and Anti-Federalists fought over federal versus state rights; the Mexican-American War was vigorously defended and oppos
Michael Ferro
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite genres to read in nonfiction are broad, sweeping narratives of American history. Thus, when I heard about THESE TRUTHS last year, I couldn't pick up a copy fast enough. And folks, let me tell you: this one does not disappoint. Jill Lepore is an absolute phenom when it comes to historical context, adding new layers and elements to many of the most complicated eras in our short history. That said, Lepore does not shy away from some of the lesser-known aspects of our history (at ...more
Oct 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's hard to write a history of the United States from the beginning to now. Lepore is perfectly suited for the task --she's a great historian and a great writer. The best thing about this American history is that it includes the women and the racial minorities that are usually left out. As such, it's a history of America--warts and all. With so much ground to cover, it would be easy to leave out the incidental players, but as Lepore shows brilliantly, it's impossible to understand America witho ...more
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Oof. This is a very, very good book. Difficult at times, depressing at others, always well-written, well-put together.
Oct 14, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: bs-pabluim, history
This book has been heavily touted.

That makes it all the more disconcerting to see an error as early as page 8 and a whopper to boot.

Indeed, beyond that as representative of numerous errors of fact, there’s numerous arguable errors of interpretation, and dubious decisions what to contain and what to omit.

Behind THAT, as Gertrude Stein said of Oakland, as far as I can tell, there’s no “there” there.

With that, let’s dig in.

Page 8: No, pre-Columbian American Indians did NOT herd pigs because there
Peter Mcloughlin
Lepore wrote this book in the wake of 2016 and it shows in the narrative arc. The history starts out as the usually admiring but ambivalent tale told by a liberal historian. Accounts of discovery and plunder, of self-government and the original sin of slavery, told very well but up to the twentieth century in a standard liberal nuanced but positively progressing narrative. However the tone strikes at first mildly discordant notes when she touches on changes in media in the twentieth century as ...more
Claire Reads Books
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 ⭐ No "comprehensive" book of United States history will ever be just that—there is simply too much to fit into even 900+ pages. But in These Truths, Jill Lepore selects and synthesizes events, details, and documents that create a picture of the vast sweep of American history—in all its promises and exceptionalism and, of course, in all its failures and hypocrisies. Her prose is taut and fluid and even glimmers, at times, with beautiful metaphors, turns of phrase, and the occasional solemn re ...more
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
"To study the past is to unlock the prison of the present."

"The past is an inheritance, a gift and a burden."

"To write something down is to make a fossil record of a mind."
-Jill Lepore

History lovers will delight in this one volume political history of the United States. I enjoyed learning about facts, stories, and characters I was unaware of before. That famous quote that history doesn't repeat itself but it rhymes, is so true. I saw so many echoes of the past in our present day as I read this
Dec 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
In this work, Jill Lepore creates a civics book for the rest of us. Spanning the depth and breadth of American history, Lepore weaves together both summary and synthesis of other historians' work to create an informative tome, including her own. If you're looking for the one book on American history, this is it. If you're an avid history reader, you'll recognize the broad strokes Lepore paints of historians' arguments though she keeps it from sounding as dry as historiography*. I was paying atte ...more
Nadine Jones
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm reading this in four parts (because I can't handle 900+ pages in one go). I'm treating each part as a "book" for the purposes of my GR reviews (so that this book isn't lingering on my "Currently Reading" shelf for 12 months or so).

Book One "The Idea" 1492 - 1799
(read from 12/4/18-12/16/18) - finished!

3.5 stars

This is very interesting, and readable, with fascinating details (the first British colonists turned to cannibalism!), but maybe Lepore has attempted too much. Of course in a brief his
Dan Graser
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Whenever you read an ambitious work of history written by a single author (Gibbon's Decline and Fall and Taruskin's History of Western Music come to mind), you first have to marvel at the accomplishment and then, over the course of careful reading and evaluation, come to find just how well they have represented fact while simultaneously making their opinions known - first of all to be opinions - but to be grounded in the facts already mentioned. Many do not measure up to that initial awe-inspiri ...more
Bruce Katz
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
Guess I never got around to writing a review (though I could have sworn I did). I'm not going to do so now. I'll simply say this book is wonderful and should be read by everyone who cares about our current situation -- our politics, cultural upheavals, mutual distrust -- and how we got here. It hasn't been very long since I read it, but I've been listening to several podcasts with Lepore and I find myself strongly tempted to read it again or download it so that I might listen to it.
Peter Tillman
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, at-bg-pa
The good news: "only" 809 pp of actual text (hc ed). The bad news: she starts her History with Columbus's voyage of discovery. She starts in Haiti/Hispaniola, and uncritically quotes Bartolome de los Casas 16th C. guess that Hispaniola had a pre-Spanish population of about 3 million, which fifty years later had declined to 500 natives! My BS detector sounded, since this was uncited, and indeed per, the max modern estimate for pre-Conquest Hispaniola is ar ...more
Sep 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
A pessimistic history that runs close to 1000 pages. Of course America has committed sins, but are there any positives to be found? According to Lepore, very, very few.
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, history-usa
A history of the United States for our time, that tells the story of America from Columbus to Trump. It has been a quite a while since I’ve been this impressed by a history book (and my shelves testify how much of them I read). These Truths is a splendidly written account that the author intends to also be a civics primer. I learned a great deal about America and I enjoyed reading it immensely. Jill Lepore looks at the subject through the theme of truth, as the nation was founded on a truth clai ...more
Mark Burris
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
By too many reviewers this book has been held up as a 1-volume history of America, from Columbus to Trump. Actually, it's much more of a history of ideas, specifically of the founding and guiding of "truths," and as such, it flows through the centuries with insight and perspective. Lepore's an excellent writer, building transitions and inserting humorous commentary that delighted this reader.

"Columbus widened the world, Gutenberg made it spin faster." (p. 13)
"Dewey ... proved about as good a ca
Mike Zickar
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
A beautifully written book, an expansive one-volume history of the United States from Christopher Columbus to the Presidency of Donald J. Trump. I appreciated several things about this book.

First, the author threads a needle between the celebratory and hyper-critical research. She's not afraid to celebrate many of the great accomplishments of our country; nor is she reluctant to point out the mistakes that our country has made. This author isn't afraid of pointing out mistakes made by liberals
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great background for the current political era

Having not taken us history since 1996, I found this sweeping overview that is unabashedly through the lens of the modern era to be extremely helpful in understanding just how much of the current political invective has been part of the conversation since before the revolutionary war. This book is eminently readable. I found myself as excited to get back to reading as I normally am for a Scandinavian crime novel. Highly recommended for anyone who wan
Richard Subber
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jill Lepore makes it easy to read authoritative accounts of our history as a nation. She is already a venerable historian.
These Truths offers two things that I crave when I’m reading/learning history: context, and a penetrating commitment to seek truth in terms of what they were thinking and what they knew way back when.
One of the thrilling and challenging realities of studying history is this humdinger: pick your time in history, and you can say “They didn’t know how it would turn out.”
Barely w
Jeremy Neely
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I learned something on every page and thought “I wish I had written that!” much more frequently. It’s a stunning thing, to produce a single volume of American history this sweeping and compelling and richly written. Of course, it’s impossible to include everything, and there were often times that I wish she would have covered this or that. That said, I’m just floored by the narrative audacity and the degree to which she pulled this off.
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
This is an excellent one volume edition of American history, perfectly tying it in, with our current racial and political environment. Kudos to Lepore for an awe-inspiring achievement.
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
OK, so this book is breathtaking and very tight for a history of the United States since Columbus's first contact with the Americas. It's pleasurable and compelling and not once did I get bored. She has a thorough argument about the relationship between "truth" and the thrust of U.S. history, and some of the threads she follows throughout the story are just... stunning. There are a few moments in the last chapter that are going to anger / frustrate just about everyone, but to be fair to her, I t ...more
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I heartily recommend that people interested in American History - thoughtful American History - read this book. It is a well-written, thoughtful, and enlightening statement on the history of the US from 1492 until the Presidential Election of 2016.

Jill Lenore is a Professor of History at Harvard. She has written on a variety of topics, from Benjamin Franklin’s sister to the writings of street people, to the history of the Wonder Woman comic book character. She is also an accomplished essayist wh
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lepore explores the "self-evident truths" of America as each generation understood and practiced them. It is a book that asks the question, what is America and who is American?

Why I started this book: Recently arrived at the library and I thought that it looked good... not realizing the affirmation and trauma that I would be participating in with this hefty book.

Why I finished it: This book was awesome, one of the best history books that I read. Lepore excels at putting history in context, inc
Bill Lucey
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
American historian and frequent contributor to The New Yorker, Jill Lepore, in “These Truths, a History of the United States,’’ presents nearly 800 pages of compelling American history that many of us might not have learned in the classroom.

Considering the “American experiment’’ was supposed to rest on three political ideas: “political equality, natural rights, and sovereignty of the people,” Lepore skillfully teases out the many contradictions and falsehoods in the Republic’s long history.

Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Self-evidently, a very timely and unique read on American History, with many nuggets and cipher on the many pertinent moments in history we have sadly come to read and appreciate as received cliché of remote times and genre. The narrative depicts four epochs of the American history, The Idea, The People, The State, The Machine. Wow, utilitarianism, phenomenology, jurisprudence and technology all in one breath – or may be one semaphore it should be. The writing happens to come across as so contem
Jud Barry
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
There are many good things about Lepore's book, but the best thing is its title: "These truths" asserts both the core philosophy of the founding and the badge of identity for every historically-aware American citizen. In Lepore's hands it becomes the proving ground and interpretive filter by which to judge the people and events of American history.

While it must needs always return to its origins, "these truths" also refers to other beliefs of the American people at large, as well as those who ha
Mieke Mcbride
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have no idea how to begin writing a review about this book, a history of the United States from 1492 to 2016, with the overarching question— how well have we lived according to the “truths” stated by Jefferson, that all men (people?) have political equality, natural rights, and the sovereignty of the people. This book took me about a month and a half to get through, and honestly whenever I could carve out time to read it, I had a hard time putting it down. (Thankfully, sections are about 20 pa ...more
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Freedom of Press--Lepore's commentary 1 2 Apr 22, 2019 11:48AM  
POBL Nonfiction B...: September Book Discussion - These Truths 1 1 Jan 07, 2019 07:43AM  
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Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History, Harvard College Professor, and chair of Harvard's History and Literature Program. She is also a staff writer at The New Yorker.

Winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Award for the best non-fiction book on race, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; The Name of War (Knopf, 1998), winner of the Bancroft Prize, the Ralph Waldo Emerson P
“The past is an inheritance, a gift and a burden. It can’t be shirked. You carry it everywhere. There’s nothing for it but to get to know it.” 5 likes
“That the revival of Christianity coincided with the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration, an anniversary made all the more mystical when the news spread that both Jefferson and Adams had died that very day, July 4, 1826, as if by the hand of God, meant that the Declaration itself took on a religious cast. The self-evident, secular truths of the Declaration of Independence became, to evangelical Americans, the truths of revealed religion.” 3 likes
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