REVIEW Ï The Story of America

CHARACTERS The Story of America

REVIEW Ï The Story of America ↠ ❰Ebook❯ ➥ The Story of America Author Jill Lepore – 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 In The Story oLongfellow as well as histories of lesser known genres including biographies of presidents novels of immigrants and accounts of the DepressionFrom 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 itse. Don't tell my wife I am in love with Jill Lepore I have been since I read her debut book The Name of War during my senior year of college back in 2003 Since then I have feasted upon her New Yorker essays whenever I stumbled on them This book which assembles many of those essays is a beautiful thing to behold a brilliant mind at play—and a historian who can write with grace She collapses space and time to explain how we Americans came to be who we are or try to be or fail to beEssay after essay I found myself astonished by her research and storytelling powers The essay on Benjamin Franklin which peels back the layers of lazy stereotype surrounding his name to reveal a fuller and endlessly interesting man is a highlight as is the Dickens in America essay There are just 2 or 3 3 pieces I wasn't dazzled by Simply put she can connect American dots—from John Smith to Andrew jackson and onward—like no one else alive She even makes Longfellow interesting which is a true feat Long live Jill Lepore Aside from the New Yorker this is the best introduction to her work

CHARACTERS ✓ E-book, or Kindle E-pub ´ Jill Lepore

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 to Barack Obama's inaugural address to show how American democracy is bound up with the history of The Story MOBI #233 print Over the centuries Americans have read and written their way into a polit. The Story of America consists of 20 essays Jill Lepore wrote for The New Yorker If you like history you'll find it interesting if surface skimming material That is Lepore is not diving in deep here she's making her point in 15 pages or so and moving on Me I bought it strictly in hopes of using some essays for school but Lepore's writing as a rule is a bit above your average 8th grader's ken That's not to say I can't use certain excerpts I can and will In these dark bright yet to be determined days of the Common Core this would count as a complex text that improves background knowledge Oh the shivers buzzwords give me It's what's known as a twoferLooking back without looking the essay that struck me the most was the one on Thomas Paine I knew him as the man who wrote Common Sense but never realized just how reviled he was even by fellow patriots like Jefferson and Adams Paine did himself in by writing books and getting involved with the French Revolution Hoo boy Those are some mauvais guys to hang out with Not surprisingly Paine wound up in a prison But at least he got outHis biggest problems were England gee I wonder why and Christians that's a bigger problem than any Union Jack can muster An atheist Paine came out swinging about God and paid the price On his deathbed he was given a last chance to repent He used his remaining strength to spit on such common sense Now that's going in styleOther essays deal with Capt John Smith's truth telling problems the Pilgrims' historians Ben Franklin's knack for almanacs the Constitution debtors' prisons Noah Webster and the American Dictionary Dickens in America not good not good Edgar Allan Woe Is Me Poe man anti slavery books Kit Carson the no longer read Longfellow short on fans these days and inaugural addresses An eclectic list if ever I saw oneThe trouble I have with any anthology is lack of momentum The end of each essay means another speed bump Perhaps fiction with its penchant for cliff hangers hanging at the ends of chapters has spoiled me That said the writing is smart the topics are interesting and the passing of time respectable if not awe inspiring In short your typical no brainer 4

Jill Lepore ´ 9 REVIEW

The Story of AmericaIcal culture of ink and typePart civics primer part cultural history The Story of America excavates the origins of everything from the paper ballot and the Constitution to the IOU 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. An excellent collection of narrative essays about American history that add up to a history of the way Americans have thought about their history over the years Over a broad range of topics excellent essays on the history of presidential biographies on the history of murder biographical sketches of Washington Franklin and Poe among others she tells very good stories based on documentable records with great wit and prose Like a story suite in fiction say City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff Vandermeer or A Visit From the Goon Suad by Jennifer Egan each essay stands on its own yet contributes to an overall understanding of American historyFrom this book and from a couple of interviews with her I’ve heard or watched I get the sense that part of her project as an historian is to take narrative history back from journalists andor bring narrative back to academic history It’s easy to take the record and impose a narrative on it As she says in her essay on the history of murder in America “It’s hard to say because Roth had wandered into a no man’s land between the social sciences and the humanities After a while arguments made in that no man’s land tend to devolve into meaninglessness good government is good bad government is bad and everything’s better when everything’s better Correlating murder with a lack of faith and hope may contain its horror but only because in a bar graph atrocity yields to banality” Into that no man’s land many biographers have strayed and overstated themselves In her essay on Washington she points out how little can be determined about him as a person based on the record particularly about the state of his emotions or his relationship with his mother and yet how biographers consistently make strong statements about both She calls Ron Chernow to task for this I’ve read his Washington with great enjoyment but she’s right that he essentially made up what he put into his book about Washington’s emotions He’s too thorough for me to not recommend his Washington A Life but if you do read it take those portions with a grain of salt In her essay on Kit Carson and the West and dime western novels she takes Hampton Sides similarly to task for inventing wholesale with good motives the internal monologue of the Native Americans in his story I haven’t read Sides’ book and therefore can’t speak to it The task she’s set herself is to construct narratives that can actually fit the historical record without excessive invention while maintaining the driving readability of the big popular narrative histories that populate the bestseller list She accomplished that in these essays The next book of hers I intend to read is her biography of Jane Franklin sister of Ben I will be paying attention to how well she rides that line in a longer formThe essays on the history of presidential biographies and of presidential inaugural addresses are fantastic She described the typical plot of the former “Parties rise and fall Wars begin and end The world turns But American campaign biographies have been following the same script for two centuries East of piffle west of hokum the Boy from Hope always grows up to be the Man of the People” She is witty and incisive The book is made of great parts that add up to an even greater wholeHighly Recommended