Myth America: Historians Take On the Biggest Legends and Lies About Our Past (Hardcover)
Myth America is a compelling and timely essay collection on big cultural divide topics through history. Its twenty essays by twenty (mostly) history professors and journalists are American history not as you were taught, but an often ironic look at what you were not taught. Whether it's looking at how we "blame the victim" by asserting that the "white backlash" to "Black Lives Matters" is caused by protests, the so-called anti-feminist family groups that are very much anti-family, the great deference with which our first Presidents treated socialist Robert Owen, or the evidence that the "New Deal" was least successful when it didn't go far enough, you'll find yourself challenged at every turn. All of these twenty essays, which each focus on one topic (e.g."Reagan Revolution," "The Border") show the role of propaganda in promoting myths and hiding the truth, particularly from conservative media and the "devolution" of the [GOP's] "commitment to truth."
The United States is in the grip of a crisis of bad history. Distortions of the past promoted in the conservative media have led large numbers of Americans to believe in fictions over facts, making constructive dialogue impossible and imperiling our democracy.
In Myth America, Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer have assembled an all-star team of fellow historians to push back against this misinformation. The contributors debunk narratives that portray the New Deal and Great Society as failures, immigrants as hostile invaders, and feminists as anti-family warriors—among numerous other partisan lies. Based on a firm foundation of historical scholarship, their findings revitalize our understanding of American history.
Replacing myths with research and reality, Myth America is essential reading amid today’s heated debates about our nation’s past.
With Essays By
Akhil Reed Amar • Kathleen Belew • Carol Anderson • Kevin Kruse • Erika Lee • Daniel Immerwahr • Elizabeth Hinton • Naomi Oreskes • Erik M. Conway • Ari Kelman • Geraldo Cadava • David A. Bell • Joshua Zeitz • Sarah Churchwell • Michael Kazin • Karen L. Cox • Eric Rauchway • Glenda Gilmore • Natalia Mehlman Petrzela • Lawrence B. Glickman • Julian E. Zelizer
Julian E. Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and the author and editor of numerous books, most recently Burning Down the House and Abraham Joshua Heschel. He lives in New York City.
“An authoritative and fitting contribution to the myth-busting genre.”
—Carlos Lozada, New York Times
“The book’s incisive essays poke holes in everything from American exceptionalism and white backlash to Confederate monuments and America First, taking us on a sobering tour through some of the nation’s deepest and darkest chapters.”—Vanity Fair
“The book’s essays…are exemplary models of political and cultural history.”—Slate
“Illuminating and sharply written…Distinguished by its impressive roster of contributors and lucid arguments, this ought to be required reading.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Myth America’s contributors take direct aim at the lies that are the lifeblood of the myths that grip American culture and politics today. This book is a collective work of courage in a time when ‘truth’ and ‘fact’ have never been so widely abused; if we believe in our craft as public historians and journalists, Kevin Kruse and Julian Zelizer show us the way.”
—David W. Blight, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Frederick Douglass
"An extraordinary essay collection by an extraordinary group of historians—each determined to make our national history usable in all the best ways. The truth does exist, and they tell it well. Together, they make an indispensable intervention for our troubled times."—Beverly Gage, author of G-Man
“Punching through the information overload with clear-eyed analysis, research rigor, and stylistic verve, this collection reveals the real history behind today’s headlines and upends long-enduring myths. Powerful, timely, and essential.”—Margaret O’Mara, author of The Code
“If you want to cling to your most cherished myths about history, this is a dangerous book. But at a time when both truth and history are under siege, Myth America has given us a blunt fact-check of many of the fictions that have come to dominate our political and cultural debates. An immensely important contribution and indispensable reference tool for confronting both the wish-casting and the disinformation about our past.”—Charlie Sykes, editor in chief, The Bulwark