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These Truths: A History of the United States

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  8,339 ratings  ·  1,370 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 so ...more
Paperback, 960 pages
Published October 1st 2019 by W. W. Norton Company (first published September 18th 2018)
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E2c She's a historian, and as such, under no obligation to provide solutions for contemporary problems. I'm not certain what you're looking for here, but …moreShe's a historian, and as such, under no obligation to provide solutions for contemporary problems. I'm not certain what you're looking for here, but whatever it is, I'm not at all certain you'll find it in a book about the American past, even the relatively recent past.(less)
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 s…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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Bill Gates
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Over the years, I’ve read a lot of books about history, especially American history. I never get tired of looking closely at seminal events, such as the Vietnam War, and figures I admire, such as the global heath hero Jim Grant.

These Truths: A History of the United States, by the Harvard historian and New Yorker contributor Jill Lepore, is not a deep or comprehensive account of individual events or people. The book covers centuries of history in its 800 pages, so Lepore can offer only quick glim
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 research is
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 oppos
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡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
Nov 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A pageturner on American political history and the deep roots of some of the current day racial problems and two party polarization
To write something down is to create a fossil of a mind

The ideal book to read after the 2020 elections and make sense of the current predicament the US political system finds itself in.
Jill Lepore packed this brick of a book with fascinating insights in history and parallels with our current times.
It's not that often that I pick up 800+ pages of non-fiction, but ofte
Oct 14, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
[4+] A mammoth, sweeping, inclusive political history of the US from 1492-2016. Unlike school textbooks, our brutal history as a slave nation and the resulting racial inequalities runs through the entire volume and is not relegated to a chapter or two. Lepore covers all the usual white male leaders of our country but also highlights lesser known women and men. I started this not long after the 2020 election - and it brought home to me that our current intense polarization is not new. Not at all.
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 how our nation
A nation born in revolution will forever struggle against chaos. A nation founded on universal human rights will wrestle against the forces of particularism. A nation that toppled a hierarchy of birth only to erect a hierarchy of wealth will never know tranquility. A nation of immigrants cannot close its borders. And a nation, born in contradiction, liberty in a land of slavery, sovereignty in a land of conquest, will fight forever over the meaning of history. (p.786)

Harvard historian and New Yo
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
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
This is a good survey of US history from the time of Columbus to Trump. This is written in a narrative style and never gets dry or boring while still hitting the key events.
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 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, the max modern estimate for pre-Conquest Hispaniola is ar ...more
robin friedman
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jill Lepore's History Of the United States

At almost 800 pages of text, Jill Lepore's book "These Truths: A History of the United States" (2018) is both forbiddingly long and yet also short for its ambitious scope. Lepore covers the United States's long past beginning with Christopher Columbus in 1492 and concluding with the election of Donald Trump to the presidency in 2016. It is a great deal to cover, and Lepore, a Professor of American History at Harvard and a staff writer for the New Yorker,
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 r ...more
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 our present day as I read this
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.
The American experiment

When the founding fathers wrote their sacred American constitution, they did not know what and how long the American experiment would be successful. In the constitution on which the country is built, there were the following Thruths: equality, sovereignty and unity. However, these truths have been interpreted differently over time. Everyone has had their opinions and everyone has something to say: the truths that laid the foundation of the nation held a promise to be rede
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 course in a brief his
Donald Powell
Ms. Lepore is very intelligent, a great editor of United States' history and a good writer. Deciding what to publish and how to frame it is an historian's art. Jill Lepore wrote a masterpiece for a one volume approach of over 245 years of troubled past. The last few pages are her diagnosis and prognosis, evoking serious consideration of the matters presented in the rest of this important take on our history. Her angles are well considered, refreshing and surprisingly objective. She is a true sch ...more
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.
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
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. ...more
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
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-usa, history
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
Porter Broyles
I won a kindle version of this book through Goodreads. While I won a Kindle version, I decided to check it out from the library because I prefer paper books. I've had the book for 2 weeks and have read less than 200 pages. Due to a wait list, I have to return the book to the library and am unlikely to finish it.

So why my rating?

1. The official summary of the book declares the book to be "the most ambitious one-volume American history in decades." While this may be true, the book is not really a
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 good a ca
This is a strange history of the United States. Lepore is clear in the introduction that the author’s choices determine any history, particularly a one volume history of the 400 or more years of US History. In her case she understates. This is more essay as history. Much of the book is dedicated to the injustices of the European settlers against minorities, most notably of course African slaves, and later their descendants in the era of Jim Crow. While the history is light on facts and events, s ...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
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Best Part of Book? 1 24 Apr 30, 2019 06:14PM  
Freedom of Press--Lepore's commentary 1 15 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

Articles featuring this book

Tech pioneer, cofounder of Microsoft, cochair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and author Bill Gates is an avid reader who has...
187 likes · 105 comments
“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.” 15 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.” 9 likes
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