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These Truths: A History of the United States

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  2,511 ratings  ·  500 reviews
Widely hailed for its “sweeping, sobering account of the American past” (New York Times Book Review), Jill Lepore’s one-volume history of America places truth itself—a devotion to facts, proof, and evidence—at the center of the nation’s history. The American experiment rests on three ideas—“these truths,” Jefferson called them—political equality, natural rights, and the sovereignty of(New ...more
Paperback, 960 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by W. W. Norton Company (first published September 18th 2018)
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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:
http://clements.umich.edu/exhibits/on...(less)
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Average rating 4.41  · 
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James Thane
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 resea
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☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
Q
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 timetrac
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Ryan Boissonneault
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Michael Ferro
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Socraticgadfly
Oct 14, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, bs-pabluim
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 A
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Mehrsa
Oct 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jessica Woodbury
I do not just casually read 900+ page history books. I don't read much history at all, to be honest. But I read Lepore's SECRET HISTORY OF WONDER WOMAN and was constantly enthralled with everything I learned so I thought this was worth a try.

What Lepore does here is in some ways quite simple, but still astounding. She gives us a political history of the United States, much like the one you've learned already but different in a few key respects. Lepore is, above all, concerned with ho
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Ilana
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oof. This is a very, very good book. Difficult at times, depressing at others, always well-written, well-put together.
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
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
Raymond
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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 o
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Hayley
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting, sad, and profound political history of America. I think it would do this country wonders if more people read it.
Nadine Jones
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 cours/>Book
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Dan Graser
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mike
Sep 17, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
James Murphy
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though a chronology of America's existence, this isn't a narrative history of events or battles or physical challenge. Lepore's history is the evolution of ideas the country was founded on, the truths which endure through changing perceptions of society, their resilience proven through their resistance to destruction. It's a history told through the values we claim to hold dear. The early going concerns itself with the civic and political theories which are the foundations of what America became ...more
Lori
Jul 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lepore wrote a single volume United States history. As one might expect, it is a chunkster. It's not comprehensive. It seems to focus more on United States political history than on the people themselves. While she succeeds in neutrality in some things, her own political leanings sneak into the narrative in other places. She does, however, offer different perspectives on some incidents. My disappointment comes from the political focus. I would enjoy more on the nation's expansion and peopling. ...more
Peter Tillman
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 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ta%C3%A..., the max modern estimate for pre-Conquest Hispaniola is around 500,000. Whatever the number, within ...more
Charlie
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mike Zickar
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Mark Burris
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 goo
...more
Sara
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 w
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Bill Lucey
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 h
...more
Richard Subber
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 o
...more
Jeremy Neely
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Joseph Stieb
“What, then, of the American past? There is, to be sure, a great deal of anguish in American history and more hypocrisy. No nation and no people are relieved of these. But there is also, in the American past, an extraordinary amount of decency and hope, of prosperity and ambition, and much, especially, invention and beauty. Some American history books fail to criticize the United States; others do nothing but. This book is neither kind. The truths on which the nation was founded are not mysterie ...more
Mark
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
K
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
Marks54
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
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Best Part of Book? 1 5 Apr 30, 2019 06:14PM  
Freedom of Press--Lepore's commentary 1 8 Apr 22, 2019 11:48AM  

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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
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“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.” 6 likes
“History isn’t only a subject; it’s also a method. My method is, generally, to let the dead speak for themselves. I’ve pressed their words between these pages, like flowers, for their beauty, or like insects, for their hideousness. The work of the historian is not the work of the critic or of the moralist; it is the work of the sleuth and the storyteller, the philosopher and the scientist, the keeper of tales, the sayer of sooth, the teller of truth.” 3 likes
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