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This America: The Case for the Nation

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  523 ratings  ·  102 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 hist
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published May 28th 2019 by Liveright
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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 membersh
Peter Mcloughlin
Argues for a liberal vision of what it means to be an American. Let's just be frank about nationalism and racism. They are most prevalent in familiar quarters of the right wing it has always has been coming from there since the country was founded. The usual suspects.
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
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 mast
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 sh
Donald Powell
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, government
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.
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
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: 2010s
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
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,
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.
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.
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 guarant
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
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
Gabe Steller
Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Title is maybe misleading, the book is not really making a "case for the nation" but rather giving a breif history of right and left wing "case(s) for the nation" throughout American history. On the other hand that history is really interesting and Jill's a good writer. Recommend maybe getting it form the library tho unless ur into this sorta thing. i mean the covers kinda nice. maybe not 19 bucks nice. hm
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Terrific book about liberalism and nationalism. If you have any interest in the politics and future of the United States, you should read this book.
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A brief but very important book that I believe should be read and pondered by every American.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lepore is fast becoming one of my favorite historians. This is a clear, concise case for coming back together around the ideas that defined America as a nation in order to expunge the poison of the false patriots, the demagogues, the self-proclaimed "nationalists" and the haters. Recommended.
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Patriotism ... liberalism... tribalism ... nationalism ... globalism ... point is: who in the hell are we and what do we WANT to be? Is there a potential for balance? That’s what this book is about.

The brilliant Jill Lepore explores the relationship of those terms and analyzes the way nationalistic tendencies often rise beyond a love for country and turn a “we’re in this together” cohesiveness into an “us against lots-of-thems” divisiveness.

So it sort of all comes back to
Amy Lively
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Immigration policy is a topic for political debate; reasonable people disagree, but hating immigrants, as if they were lesser humans, is a form of nationalism that has nothing to do with patriotism and much to do with racism.” I have read a few narratives of U.S. history but none like this. This is the history of nationalism told along side the history of the nation, right up to Trump. (This makes sense, given that he has openly declared himself to be a nationalist.)

There is zero fi
Jun 23, 2019 rated it liked it
A 3.5 that I'm rounding down. Clearly an appendix to Lepore's majestic "These Truths," this long essay is a somewhat muddled argument that the best rebuttal to Trump's racism and violent nationalism is for historians to write more national histories which underline the liberal ideals of the republic. Which is fine and good, of course, but feels a bit navel-gazing by its end.
Steven Cunningham
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Just finished “This America: The Case for the Nation,” by Jill Lepore (2019).

Here are a few pearls from this timely and important book:

It is important that historians return to the study of nationalism. In the 1970s historians, appalled by nationalisms around the world, largely stopped studying them. However, when scholars stopped writing the national history, other less scrupulous writers stepped in. Nations, to make sense of themselves, need a common story, an agreed-up
Richard de Villiers
Sep 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Nationalism has a bad rep and it is not completely undeserved. Hitler and his modern day acolytes have made sure of that. It is not fair really, it is not nationalism's fault that that people who live and breathe hatred have appropriated the term. Jill Lepore knows that Nationalism is not something people in polite society like to talk about and she thinks that is a mistake. By ceding Nationalism and not wanting to tell our nation's story we leave it to others less qualified to define our histo ...more
Oct 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, justice
It's a timely essay (not really a book at 160 pages). What is nationalism? When did it first appeared? In what forms? Do we view it as negative, as patriotism, as strength, or?

It' a 5 star essay.

My notes
No index
3 tasks: brief history of Nationalism; case for nationalism; case against nationalism and for liberalism
Founding fathers struggle for unity; Slavery divided us from the beginning
55 Lincoln in 1854 makes speech that sh
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 emper
Russell Fox
I read most of this short book in a half-hour while standing in an aisle in a bookstore in Ann Arbor, MI, so I freely grant that I probably missed elements of its argument, or may not have fully appreciated some of the ways in which she examines her topic. Still, overall I thought it was a decent introduction to an enormously difficult idea: that of "liberal nationalism," or the notion that one can organize feelings of national affection and allegiance to liberal principles of openness, toleranc ...more
Kyle Dinges
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
This America is Jill Lepore's short book (or long essay, depending how you look at it) that serves as both a history and rebuke of nationalism in the United States. Having read These Truths: A History of the United States a few months ago, This America felt like an expansion on some of the themes that were presented in that book.

As with all of Lepore's work, the book is well-researched and well-written. She lays out the history of these ideas from dawn of America to the present political climate, tyi
Sid Groeneman
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This modest-sized treatise is a timely critique of scholars and activists who have abandoned focusing on the nation as an instrumentality of progressive values such as democratic governance. Author Jill Lepore reminds us that nationalism was initially a product of Enlightenment liberalism. She cites France's Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789) to underscore the point: "The principal of sovereignty resides essentially in the nation; [no person or institution] can exercise authority that does ...more
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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
“Right wrongs no man.” 0 likes
“Liberalism is still in there. The trick is getting it out. There’s only one way to do that. It requires grabbing and holding onto a very good idea: that all people are equal and endowed from birth with inalienable rights and entitled to equal treatment, guaranteed by a nation of laws. This requires making the case for the nation.” 0 likes
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