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The Story of America: Essays on Origins

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"As both a Jeremiah and a troubadour, Jill Lepore has one of the most distinctive voices in American literary life. So skilled in the art of the essay, she has a sense of narrative that is breathtaking. She tells resounding, surprising stories about real people forging American roots and development, but always through a deeply documented history. Both subtly and explosively, Lepore brings the power of history right into your lap and makes you shudder at just how deeply tangled past and present really are."--David W. Blight, author of American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era

"Jill Lepore is one of America's most interesting scholars--a distinguished historian and a brilliant essayist. This prolific collection of articles and essays is a remarkable body of work that moves from early America to our present, contentious age."--Alan Brinkley, author of The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century

"Jill Lepore is one of our finest historians of the battle over the story called 'America,' which, as she says, is constantly being fought over and over. In this stunning collection of essays, Lepore makes the case that the rise of democracy is bound up with the history of its reading and writing. That history is conflicted, ragged, and contradictory but, in Lepore's capable hands, as gripping and compelling as a novel."--Cathy N. Davidson, Duke University

"Concise, clear, vivid, witty, insightful, and rich in turns of phrase. More than any other historian I know, Lepore cares about good writing and has a talent for making sophisticated ideas accessible to a broad readership."--Alan Taylor, author of The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, and Indian Allies

"Jill Lepore's storytelling power is on full display here. As much literary exercises as historical inquiries, these essays are compact, highly readable, and often written from an unexpected angle. Combining a lightness of touch with the authority of a historian who knows her field inside out, Lepore moves effortlessly through the length of American history."--Wai Chee Dimock, Yale University

Review:

"'I wanted to try to explain how history works, and how it's different from politics,' states Harvard history professor Lepore (The Mansion of Happiness), introducing her collection of essays, almost all previously published in the New Yorker. History involves making an argument by telling a story 'accountable to evidence,' which she marshals ably in discussing personalities real and fictional, from Benjamin Franklin to Charlie Chan. Her argument that Longfellow's 'Paul Revere's Ride' was an abolitionist 'call to arms,' subsequently 'juvenilized' for schoolrooms, is as pointed as a legal brief. Varying her tone — brisk when detailing changes in how Americans cast their votes, poignant when recounting Edgar Allan Poe's career — Lepore also provides drollery. Nixon's attempt to give a concise and, he hoped, memorable inaugural address 'led him to say things briefly but didn't save him from saying them badly.' Ranging from colonial times to the present, the essays are liberally sprinkled with fascinating facts — etymologies of 'ballot' and 'booze,' or that Davy Crockett was the first presidential candidate to write a campaign autobiography. Even the footnotes contain buried treasures; history buffs and general readers alike will savor this collection. Agent: Tina Bennett, William Morris Endeavor." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

"As both a Jeremiah and a troubadour, Jill Lepore has one of the most distinctive voices in American literary life. So skilled in the art of the essay, she has a sense of narrative that is breathtaking. She tells resounding, surprising stories about real people forging American roots and development, but always through a deeply documented history. Both subtly and explosively, Lepore brings the power of history right into your lap and makes you shudder at just how deeply tangled past and present really are."--David W. Blight, author of American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era

"Jill Lepore is one of America's most interesting scholars--a distinguished historian and a brilliant essayist. This prolific collection of articles and essays is a remarkable body of work that moves from early America to our present, contentious age."--Alan Brinkley, author of The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century

"Jill Lepore is one of our finest historians of the battle over the story called 'America,' which, as she says, is constantly being fought over and over. In this stunning collection of essays, Lepore makes the case that the rise of democracy is bound up with the history of its reading and writing. That history is conflicted, ragged, and contradictory but, in Lepore's capable hands, as gripping and compelling as a novel."--Cathy N. Davidson, Duke University

"Concise, clear, vivid, witty, insightful, and rich in turns of phrase. More than any other historian I know, Lepore cares about good writing and has a talent for making sophisticated ideas accessible to a broad readership."--Alan Taylor, author of The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, and Indian Allies

"Jill Lepore's storytelling power is on full display here. As much literary exercises as historical inquiries, these essays are compact, highly readable, and often written from an unexpected angle. Combining a lightness of touch with the authority of a historian who knows her field inside out, Lepore moves effortlessly through the length of American history."--Wai Chee Dimock, Yale University

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 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 books include "The Mansion of Happiness", "The Whites of Their Eyes" (Princeton), and "Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin".

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1. Here He Lyes 17

2. A Pilgrim Passed I 31

3. The Way to Wealth 44

4. The Age of Paine 59

5. We the Parchment 72

6. I.O.U. 91

7. A Nue Merrykin Dikshunary 111

8. His Highness 130

9. Man of the People 146

10. Pickwick in America 159

11. The Humbug 178

12. President Tom's Cabin 197

13. Pride of the Prairie 209

14. Longfellow's Ride 220

15. Rock, Paper, Scissors 240

16. Objection 254

17. Chan the Man 268

18. The Uprooted 279

19. Rap Sheet 291

20. To Wit 304

Notes 319

Index 399

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691153995
Author:
Lepore, Jill
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Subject:
United States / Revolutionary Period (1775-1800)
Subject:
American history
Subject:
Political Science and International Relations
Subject:
World history -- Historiography.
Subject:
US History-General
Publication Date:
20121031
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
432
Dimensions:
8.5 x 5.5 in

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » History and Social Science
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History and Social Science » Sociology » American Studies
History and Social Science » US History » Colonial America
History and Social Science » US History » General
History and Social Science » US History » Revolution and Constitution Era
History and Social Science » World History » General
History and Social Science » World History » Historiography

The Story of America: Essays on Origins Used Hardcover
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Product details 432 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691153995 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "'I wanted to try to explain how history works, and how it's different from politics,' states Harvard history professor Lepore (The Mansion of Happiness), introducing her collection of essays, almost all previously published in the New Yorker. History involves making an argument by telling a story 'accountable to evidence,' which she marshals ably in discussing personalities real and fictional, from Benjamin Franklin to Charlie Chan. Her argument that Longfellow's 'Paul Revere's Ride' was an abolitionist 'call to arms,' subsequently 'juvenilized' for schoolrooms, is as pointed as a legal brief. Varying her tone — brisk when detailing changes in how Americans cast their votes, poignant when recounting Edgar Allan Poe's career — Lepore also provides drollery. Nixon's attempt to give a concise and, he hoped, memorable inaugural address 'led him to say things briefly but didn't save him from saying them badly.' Ranging from colonial times to the present, the essays are liberally sprinkled with fascinating facts — etymologies of 'ballot' and 'booze,' or that Davy Crockett was the first presidential candidate to write a campaign autobiography. Even the footnotes contain buried treasures; history buffs and general readers alike will savor this collection. Agent: Tina Bennett, William Morris Endeavor." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , "As both a Jeremiah and a troubadour, Jill Lepore has one of the most distinctive voices in American literary life. So skilled in the art of the essay, she has a sense of narrative that is breathtaking. She tells resounding, surprising stories about real people forging American roots and development, but always through a deeply documented history. Both subtly and explosively, Lepore brings the power of history right into your lap and makes you shudder at just how deeply tangled past and present really are."--David W. Blight, author of American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era

"Jill Lepore is one of America's most interesting scholars--a distinguished historian and a brilliant essayist. This prolific collection of articles and essays is a remarkable body of work that moves from early America to our present, contentious age."--Alan Brinkley, author of The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century

"Jill Lepore is one of our finest historians of the battle over the story called 'America,' which, as she says, is constantly being fought over and over. In this stunning collection of essays, Lepore makes the case that the rise of democracy is bound up with the history of its reading and writing. That history is conflicted, ragged, and contradictory but, in Lepore's capable hands, as gripping and compelling as a novel."--Cathy N. Davidson, Duke University

"Concise, clear, vivid, witty, insightful, and rich in turns of phrase. More than any other historian I know, Lepore cares about good writing and has a talent for making sophisticated ideas accessible to a broad readership."--Alan Taylor, author of The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, and Indian Allies

"Jill Lepore's storytelling power is on full display here. As much literary exercises as historical inquiries, these essays are compact, highly readable, and often written from an unexpected angle. Combining a lightness of touch with the authority of a historian who knows her field inside out, Lepore moves effortlessly through the length of American history."--Wai Chee Dimock, Yale University

"Synopsis" by , 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.

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