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This America: The Case for the Nation

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,329 ratings  ·  228 reviews
At a time of much despair over the future of liberal democracy, Jill Lepore makes a stirring case for the nation in This America, a follow-up to her much-celebrated history of the United States, These Truths.

With dangerous forms of nationalism on the rise, Lepore, a Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer, repudiates nationalism here by explaining its long history—an
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published May 28th 2019 by Liveright (first published May 2019)
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Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jill Lepore has written a new book arguing for an American “nationalism”. The book is short and more like an extended essay than a full book. That is OK. “This America” is an excellent book and a quick and enjoyable read.

The book examines two senses of nationalism. One an exclusive nationalism, based on language, religion, race, or some other catchall category. The other is an inclusive nationalism, associated by some with liberal democracy, which argues for a broad national membership that asks
Ryan Boissonneault
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
In 2018, Jill Lepore wrote what I would consider to be the best single-volume history of the United States, titled These Truths. The theme was clear, that the US, despite its messy history, was founded on admirable principles that it has slowly and arduously fought to live up to—and continues to do so. The result was an objective history, one that didn’t hide from the atrocities or ignore the positives, centered around a unifying and inspiring theme.

It is in comparison to this 789-page masterpie
robin friedman
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jill Lepore's Case For The Nation

The renowned historian Jill Lepore's 2018 book "These Truths" was the first single volume history in decades of the United States from Christopher Columbus' voyage in 1492 to the election to the presidency of Donald Trump in 2016. Lepore has followed-up her history with a much shorter but equally ambitious work "This America: The Case for the Nation" (2019) in which she argues for the importance of writing a broad-based national history of the type she wrote in "
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
"To love this particular nation is to love the world."

"This America is a community of belonging and commitment, held together by the strength of our ideas and by the force of our disagreements."

Nationalism has gotten a lot of attention in the past few years especially with the rise of Donald Trump and far right populist figures in Europe. If you are like me then you probably think the word nationalism brings with it a negative connotation, you and I are partly right. Lepore argues in this little
Jan 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, politics
At a campaign rally in the fall of 2018 Donald Trump said

“You know what a globalist is, right? A globalist is a person that wants the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much. And you know what? We can’t have that. You know, they have a word, it sort of became old-fashioned— it’s called a ‘nationalist.’ And I say, really, we’re not suppose to use that word. You know what I am?” He poked his chest. “I’m a nationalist, okay?”

This was during a time when his campaign was c
Donald Powell
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: government, history
A very erudite and thorough analysis of Nationalism, the American Dream and the history behind it. Oddly there was no mention of Howard Zinn's history. This is an honest expose' on some of the worst trends in governance. Ms. Lepore is a very important historian with a conscience who has done the work to back up her point of view. Her argument is undeniable for anyone who chooses to read books like this. The real problem is brought to the fore because those who need to read such books do not. ...more
Bruce Katz
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
A sombre, clear-eyed examination of the development of the modern idea of a "Nation" and how that idea has changed overtime in America. Lepore quickly covers the varying and frequently contradictory ways in which Americans have defined themselves as a nation: including, on one hand, such articulations as Lincoln's Gettysburg formulation of the U.S. as "a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal," and on the other hand, the more nativist, " ...more
Ryan Darnell
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Jill Lepore’s “This America” caught my eye as a quick read in my recent trip to Seattle. However, when I began reading, I realized that I’d need to read it with a more critical eye, as there are many sleights of hand that she uses to stultify the reader.

Lepore’s fault is not in her scholarship (historical research), it is in her philosophical approach, namely the use of logical fallacies. These intellectual shortcuts are innately flabby, and cursory digging will reveal that the emperor wears no
Nov 06, 2019 rated it liked it
I’m not sure why this book was necessary. I read these truths, which was good and super long. This seems like maybe it was a cut chapter or 3 from the book that justifies grand histories. I really didn’t learn all that much—it was too short for a stand-alone book and too long for an epilogue
Miles Smith
A beautifully written, poorly conceived, hyper-liberal, ahistorical, interesting hot mess of a book.
Michael Kress
Jul 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
This is another short book I just sat in Books-A-Million and read, because its a cool environment with good coffee, and I didn't have to pay the steep price for a brand new book. It's about the historical differences between patriotism and nationalism. Before reading this, I didn't see much of a difference between the two. After reading it, I am more aware of the historical significance of both concepts. The book is packed with historical facts about America, its people, and the role many public ...more
Susan Miller
An interesting little book, which is more of a very long essay, dealing with the orgins of nations and nationalism. The book references other authors that have told the story of American history down through the ages. (These are helpfully all listed in the reference section.) The main point that Ms. Lepore makes is that when the country breaks down into the tribalism of nationalism then the ideals on which a country is founded - equality, citizenship and equal rights disappear. It does not matte ...more
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, politics
Lepore has a great understanding of what USA is and always meant to become. In this short essay she outlines the history of nationalism as a term and as a policy both worldwide and in the United States of America. He chronologically looks at the rise and development of the idea in the country and it's influence on USA in the last 300 years. It's a fantastic short read and is a decent primer on where the strongly nationalist ideas in the contemporary American political scene come from.

Would highl
Jan 25, 2021 rated it liked it
I am a huge fan of Jill Lapore's work, based on her brilliant essays in The New Yorker and her magnificent 900+-page survey of American history, These Truths. This little book, an extended essay, really (138 pages), is good, but somehow not as good as I would have expected. I don't really have any bone to pick with it, but it's often just not that interesting, even to this sometime student of nationalism; it often (but not consistently) seems to be addressed primarily to professional historians; ...more
Apr 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A convincing and wide-ranging meta-history of how historians and writers have built up the idea of America over time. It reads a bit like staring at a giant tapestry woven in pictograms, in a way that reveals the weaver's underlying pattern. What is a nation? What is liberalism? Progressivism? Nationalism? Where has America succeeded and failed at living out its lofty ideals? Lots of what the book presents is not entirely new to me, but the way Lepore compressed and connects concepts is a joy to ...more
Steve Greenleaf
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don't know if American historian Jill Lepore had her book in mind as a perfect read to help us celebrate Independence Day (aka The 4th). I consider the 4th a lovely (or more likely, hot and muggy) day to sit and read a thoughtful reflection about our nation, an appropriate way to celebrate the holiday--at least until later in the day, when it's time for some barbeque and fireworks.

This short work allowed me to finish my American history reading project early. At 138 pages of text, it's a brief
Kim Williams
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nationalism, for good or ill, has always been a part of our history. Often it has lead to the exclusion of those deemed to be "the other" in the name of protecting the sanctity of the nation. Jill Lepore takes us through the darkest moments of our history and how nationalism played a part in shaping those events. She also offers a revised definition of what American nationalism could and should be. A great read. Highly recommend it. ...more
Joshua Greer
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lepore does explains much in this short. I appreciate that there is hope in the end; much needed after the history of nationalism that unfolds. A worthy read to understanding some of the issues the country is facing today.
Joseph Stieb
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A compelling long essay (hardly a book, as Lepore concedes) that follows up on Lepore's masterful volume These Truths. I'd have to say that Lepore is probably my favorite present-day historian for her range, her creativity, and her urgent but responsible linking of the historian's task to contemporary politics.

This book is largely an extension of her recent Foreign Affairs essay, so if you have read that you probably have the gist of this. Lepore's argument is that historians have retreated so f
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this short volume by Harvard historian and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore, in which Lepore “explains the origins of nations...offers a brief history of nationalism...[and]...makes the case for the nation, and for the enduring importance of the United States and of American civic ideals, by arguing against nationalism, and for liberalism.”

Lepore also discusses the shift of American historical scholarship away from the telling of one national story, in hope of discouraging the nati
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-american
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Caitlin Heston
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I am not someone who reads history books. My husband convinced me to read this because he promised it was short and spoke to the current moment (the deadly attack on the Capitol had just taken place).

I’m extremely glad I read this book. It remained accessible while introducing many new (to me) ideas, definitions, and arguments—In less than 140 pages!

Over the past four years of Trump’s presidency, I have been reacting to American nationalism by becoming less patriotic. (I never knew the differe
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
American History professor Jill LePore gallivants from America’s origins to a few hours ago in this brief but amazingly comprehensive long essay/short book. Her focus is on nationalism, from its early days as a liberal construct to its current state. She clarifies early on that she is presenting a position, not an objective history.

When countries began to consider themselves individual nations w their own languages, customs, and cultures, they wanted to be distinctive. LePore gives the example o
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
A mighty little book offering a path forward for those of us weathering the Trump storm.

“Patriotism is animated by love, nationalism by hatred. To confuse the one for the other is to pretend that hate is love and fear is courage.” p. 22

“The United States was founded as an asylum and a refuge: a sanctuary. This was a form of patriotism.” P. 37

“Liberalism is the belief that people are good and should be free, and that people erect governments in order to guarantee that freedom.” p. 40

“‘The great g
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is another thought provoking book from Jill Lepore which deals with the same themes as These Truths. Here she is concerned with the difference between a nation and nationalism. "A nation is a people who share a common descent" whereas nationalism (a term coined in the c18) means a "particular emotional attachment to your own 'nation'". As she expands on these definitions she traces the rise of nationalism to the 1880 and the rise of anti-immigrant politics. This 'illiberal nationalism' expa ...more
Laura Hoffman Brauman
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am particularly fond of books about US History and our ideology that manage to communicate a deep love for our country and the potential of our ideals along with an honest look at all the ways that we haven't lived up to those ideals. Lepore has a clear passion for the belief in equality that was one of our founding principles but also acknowledges the many, many times we haven't acted or aren't currently acting according to those principles. In This America: The Case for the Nation, she looks ...more
Esan Swan
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Despite the sometimes weird syntax and sometimes mislabelled subtitles, this has been one of the best books I've read in the last six months. Jill Lepore puts together a brilliant (but short) history of nationalism in America. From it's beginning in Europe to how it morphed in the United States, this book traces how race, gender, minority groups and others have been impacted on nationalism - both good (civic nationalism) and bad (illiberal nationalism).

One of the most fascinating parts of this
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-non-fiction
She's so smart. I wish more young people thought like her. She's hopeful and critical. She's realistic and looking to examine things. Lepore finds the strains of Nationalisms and Liberalisms throughout the history of the United States in a short book, she calls it a long essay.

This should be required reading for all people. It's such a breath of fresh air, reclaiming a sense of Nationalism from the right and laying bare the fallacies of the ideas of the raddies that we can act as if there are no
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an enjoyably concise and buoyant brief history. From a deep foundation of knowledge, Lepore sketches a textured and optimistic American history. She makes the case that liberals shouldn't despair because of America's hypocrisy, but embrace America's essential character of always (at least partially) wanting to be better than we are. The result is a practically cozy read that conjures up a new American character somewhere between the ineffective sniping of identity politics and the dark, ...more
Sara Budarz
Sep 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This incredible short book examines the process through which nations are created and argues, very convincingly, that in failing to understand the difference between patriotism and nationalism (and their different histories), we as a nation have let people create false narratives - narratives that rest upon violence and hatred towards others, which is inherent in nationalism. Highly, highly recommend.
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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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