A New York Times and Washington Post Notable Book of the Year
In the most ambitious one-volume American history in decades, award-winning historian Jill Lepore offers a magisterial account of the origins and rise of a divided nation.
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 the people. But has the nation, and democracy itself, delivered on that promise?
These Truths tells this uniquely American story, beginning in 1492, asking whether the course of events over more than five centuries has proven the nation’s truths, or belied them. To answer that question, Lepore wrestles with the state of American politics, the legacy of slavery, the persistence of inequality, and the nature of technological change. “A nation born in contradiction… will fight, forever, over the meaning of its history,” Lepore writes, but engaging in that struggle by studying the past is part of the work of citizenship. With These Truths, Lepore has produced a book that will shape our view of American history for decades to come.
About the Author
Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and a staff writer at The New Yorker. Her many books include The Secret History of Wonder Woman, a national bestseller, and Book of Ages, a finalist for the National Book Award.
It isn’t until you start reading it that you realize how much we need a book like this one at this particular moment.… Brilliant. — Andrew Sullivan
[These Truths] captures the fullness of the past, where hope rises out of despair, renewal out of destruction, and forward momentum out of setbacks.
— Jack E. Davis
It is the story of a nation, multiracial at its founding, and those who sought to find ways to realize ‘these truths.’ — John S. Gardner
This sweeping, sobering account of the American past is a story not of relentless progress but of conflict and contradiction, with crosscurrents of reason and faith, black and white, immigrant and native, industry and agriculture rippling through a narrative that is far from completion. — Editors’ Choice, “100 Notable Books of 2018”
[Lepore’s] one-volume history is elegant, readable, sobering; it extends a steadying hand when a breakneck news cycle lurches from one event to another, confounding minds and churning stomachs. — Jennifer Szalai
Those devoted to an honest reckoning with America’s past have their work cut out for them. Lepore’s book is a good place to start. — H. W. Brands
Sweeping and propulsive. — Boris Kachka
In her epic new work, Jill Lepore helps us learn from whence we came. — Natalie Beach
Gripping, moving, and beautifully written. — Evan Thomas
A splendid rendering—filled with triumph, tragedy, and hope—that will please Lepore’s readers immensely and win her many new ones.