The Story of America by Jill Lepore
Essays on Origins

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The evidence in this book indicates that the country has much yet to learn from mistakes of the past. Before heading to the polling places—or if you are simply looking for a good read—have a go at this book.
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis

In The Story of America, Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore investigates American origin stories--from John Smith's account of the founding of Jamestown in 1607 to Barack Obama's 2009 inaugural address--to show how American democracy is bound up with the history of print. Over the centuries, Americans have read and written their way into a political culture of ink and type.

Part civics primer, part cultural history, The Story of America excavates the origins of everything from the paper ballot and the Constitution to the I.O.U. and the dictionary. Along the way it presents fresh readings of Benjamin Franklin's Way to Wealth, Thomas Paine's Common Sense, "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe, and "Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, as well as histories of lesser-known genres, including biographies of presidents, novels of immigrants, and accounts of the Depression.

From past to present, Lepore argues, Americans have wrestled with the idea of democracy by telling stories. In this thoughtful and provocative book, Lepore offers at once a history of origin stories and a meditation on storytelling itself.

 

About Jill Lepore

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Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper '41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and a staff writer at The New Yorker. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
 
Published October 7, 2012 by Princeton University Press. 427 pages
Genres: History. Non-fiction
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NY Journal of Books

Above average
Reviewed by Phyllis Hanlon on Oct 07 2012

The evidence in this book indicates that the country has much yet to learn from mistakes of the past. Before heading to the polling places—or if you are simply looking for a good read—have a go at this book.

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