• The Broken Heart of America

  • St. Louis and the Violent History of the United States
  • By: Walter Johnson
  • Narrated by: Jamie Renell
  • Length: 15 hrs and 46 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (250 ratings)

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The Broken Heart of America

By: Walter Johnson
Narrated by: Jamie Renell
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Publisher's summary

A searing portrait of the racial dynamics that lie inescapably at the heart of our nation, told through the turbulent history of the city of St. Louis.

From Lewis and Clark's 1804 expedition to the 2014 uprising in Ferguson, American history has been made in St. Louis. And as Walter Johnson shows in this searing book, the city exemplifies how imperialism, racism, and capitalism have persistently entwined to corrupt the nation's past.

St. Louis was a staging post for Indian removal and imperial expansion, and its wealth grew on the backs of its poor Black residents, from slavery through redlining and urban renewal. But it was once also America's most radical city, home to anti-capitalist immigrants, the Civil War's first general emancipation, and the nation's first general strike—a legacy of resistance that endures.

A blistering history of a city's rise and decline, The Broken Heart of America will forever change how we think about the United States.

©2020 Walter Johnson (P)2020 Basic Books

Critic reviews

"Although focused primarily on the history of St. Louis and surrounding areas, this well researched and thoroughly documented work is too important to be dismissed as a strictly regional history. Highly recommended for all readers interested in American history."—Los Angeles Review of Books

"When it comes to the history of racism and exclusion in the United States, St. Louis wasn't unique...what it was, Johnson says, was more extreme.... Johnson is a spirited and skillful rhetorician, juggling a slew of historical facts while never allowing the flame of his anger to dim.... As he ably shows, so much exploitation lies in the details."—New York Times

"The Broken Heart of America is an outraged dissection of a malignant pattern Johnson discerns in the way white St. Louis treated Native Americans and then Blacks.... Comprehensive and convincing in its particulars."—Boston Globe

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