• This America

  • The Case for the Nation
  • By: Jill Lepore
  • Narrated by: Jill Lepore
  • Length: 2 hrs and 36 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (130 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of These Truths, a work that examines the dilemma of nationalism and the erosion of liberalism in the 21st century.

At a time of much despair over the future of liberal democracy, Harvard historian Jill Lepore makes a stirring case for the nation in This America. Since the end of the Cold War, Lepore writes, American historians have largely retreated from the idea of "the nation", in part because postmodernism has corroded faith in grand narratives, and in part because the rise of political nationalism has rendered it suspect and unpalatable. Bucking this trend, however, Lepore argues forcefully that the nation demands scrutiny. Without an honest reckoning with America's collective past, we will be at the mercy of unscrupulous demagogues who spin their own version of the national story for their own purposes. "When serious historians abandon the study of the nation", Lepore tellingly writes, "nationalism doesn't die. Instead, it eats liberalism." 

A trenchant work of political philosophy as well as a reclamation of America's national history, This America asks us to look our nation's sovereign past square in the eye to reveal not only a history of contradictions, but a path of promise for the future.

Cover art © 2019 Estate of Arcola Pettway / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

©2019 Jill Lepore (P)2019 Random House Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"Ambitious...a thoughtful and passionate defense of her vision of American patriotism.... [Lepore] dedicates her book to her father, 'whose immigrant parents named him Amerigo in 1924, the year Congress passed a law banning immigrants like them.'" (Michael Lind, New York Times)

"A sharp, short history of nationalism.... A frank, well-written look at the dangers we face. We ignore them at our peril." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) 

"Urgent and pithy.... Readers seeking clear and relevant definitions of political concepts will appreciate this brisk yet thorough, frank, and bracing look at the ancient origins of the nation state versus the late-18th-century coinage of the term ‘nationalism’ and its alignment with exclusion and prejudice." (Booklist

"A hopeful book for all who believe that America's ideals are stronger than our demagogues." (Michael Bloomberg)  

What listeners say about This America

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  • Overall
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Important

A must-read for (1) anyone who finishes These Truths and wants to know what the writer advocates and (2) anyone who wants to identify and embrace the best parts of liberal and conservative ideology. Short, sweet, and essential.

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Great content, poor execution

I agree with the basic message of this book but every time I got into the content of it, the narrator would use a shrill, sarcastic tone of voice to quote anyone who held differing views, undermining the overall message of liberalism. Very unfortunate. I would’ve liked to have liked this book.

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A breezy essay

Enthusiatic and animated narration propels this long essay through the history of nationalism and liberalism is the U.S.. It isn't a precise, forensic history but Lepore takes us through definitions and past eras through the voices of the actual people who helped define patriotism. This was engaging and illuminating!

1 person found this helpful

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What does it mean to be an American?

A short and fascinating book on the importance of coming to terms with our past and the unavoidable necessity of dealing with the concept of an American nation. Whether we like it or not.

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Compelling history of history for today

I am enthralled with Lepore's analysis and presentation of liberal nationalism, the need for broad ideas of patriotism, the writing and rewriting of history, and nationalism's lurking challenges that cannot go unaddressed nor should they be countered in tribalistic foment. There is much to absorb here and more to revisit.

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A Much Need Context for Today

This is a great overview both of American history and the case for teaching it.

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A Gem

Outstanding from start to finish, bravo. She has managed to again bring so much life into American history.

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Great

Great book for anyone who knows Jill Legore's work. I recommend it to anyone who likes intellectual discourse.

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recommend!

it's funny how this little book and short listen opens you up to a world of perspective

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Every American Should Read

Jill Lepore’s performance of her words is extraordinary! Every person who is worried about where we as a nation are going needs to read this account of the ideas, thoughts and ideals of the Americans who came before us to shape what is This America. Her Fredrick Douglas and W. B. Debois read as true today as when first spoken. I only wish I would hear more of these from our politicians and historians alike.