The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History [New in Paper]
Americans have always put the past to political ends. The Union laid claim to the Revolutionso did the Confederacy. Civil rights leaders said they were the true sons of libertyso did Southern segregationists. This book tells the story of the centuries-long struggle over the meaning of the nation's founding, including the battle waged by the Tea Party, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and evangelical Christians to "take back America."
Jill Lepore, Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer, offers a careful and concerned look at American history according to the far right, from the "rant heard round the world," which launched the Tea Party, to the Texas School Board's adoption of a social-studies curriculum that teaches that the United States was established as a Christian nation. Along the way, she provides rare insight into the eighteenth-century struggle for independencea history of the Revolution, from the archives. Lepore traces the roots of the far right's reactionary history to the bicentennial in the 1970s, when no one could agree on what story a divided nation should tell about its unruly beginnings. Behind the Tea Party's Revolution, she argues, lies a nostalgic and even heartbreaking yearning for an imagined pasta time less troubled by ambiguity, strife, and uncertaintya yearning for an America that never was.
The Whites of Their Eyes reveals that the far right has embraced a narrative about America's founding that is not only a fable but is also, finally, a variety of fundamentalismanti-intellectual, antihistorical, and dangerously antipluralist.
In a new afterword, Lepore addresses both the recent shift in Tea Party rhetoric from the Revolution to the Constitution and the diminished role of scholars as political commentators over the last half century of public debate.
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 New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity, winner of the Bancroft Prize.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Ruth O’Brien ixPrologue: Party Like It’s 1773 1Chapter 1: Ye Olde Media 20Chapter 2: The Book of Ages 43Chapter 3: How to Commit Revolution 70Chapter 4: The Past upon Its Throne 98Chapter 5: Your Superexcellent Age 126Epilogue: Revering America 152Afterword to the Paperback Edition 167Acknowledgments 177Notes 179Index 209
What People are Saying About This
This book gives an informed account of the ways contemporary references to the Revolution ignore, distort, run roughshod over, yet somehow attempt seriously to evoke the events of the past. It nicely represents Lepore's distinctive genius as a historian. Jack N. Rakove, author of "Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution"
Modern Tea Partiers have thrown facts overboard and recast the Revolution in their own image: white, Christian, and ultraconservative. Lepore demolishes the Tea Party's founding fable with deep scholarship and devastating wit. Tony Horwitz, author of "Confederates in the Attic"
Jill Lepore is a national treasure. There is no other writer so at home both as a trenchant scholar of American history and as an on-the-scene observer of our present-day follies. She etches the connection between past and present with a wisdom, grace, and sparkle that makes this book even harder to put downif that's possiblethan her previous work. Adam Hochschild, author of "Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves"
The Whites of Their Eyes offers a lesson in what history actually is and how it seems constantly to be used and abused. Lepore is a superb writer. Eric Foner, author of "Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877"
Henry Louis Gates
No one writes about our Revolutionary history and its effects upon the shape of our culture and society today with more wit, verve, and sparkling intelligence than Jill Lepore. The Whites of Their Eyes offers the most compelling look we have so far at who we were and who we have become as a nation, and provides a cool and much needed context for the heated rhetoric of this 'new' reactionary moment. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University
The Whites of Their Eyes shows Jill Lepore at her remarkable bestaccessible, authoritative, and wise. Jeffrey Toobin, author of "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court"
The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History 3.3 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
History is messy. Historical accounts are typically subject to political/cultural bias of the beholder. Whether you are Zinn or Schweikart your historical perspective is subject to bias. Lepore's work isn't so much history as it is historiography as it compares and critiques popular belief about the American Revolution from two separate periods and their associated popular beliefs (The American Bicentennial and today's Tea Party movement). The analysis seems sound and well reasoned. I recommend this as a source of information for those who are looking for an analysis of how and why we (Americans) venerate the heroes of the Revolutionary War and how and why this veneration skews our perception of what actually occurred during the revolution.
Is this a political book? Perhaps today it is. I don't think the author has gone out of her way to be political in her conclusions, but I am certain there are many out there who will criticize this book based more on its political merit rather than on the credibility of the conclusions presented. In a few years when political focus has moved beyond the Tea Party and its opponents I believe the book will still have value as a cultural snapshot of the political environment today and in 1976.
Immerse yourself in the romance and beauty of nearly 150 years of American currency. It
all comes alive in the updated, revised third edition of Arthur and Ira Friedberg s Guide Book of United States Paper Money, one of Whitman ...
Building on the scope of Robert Friedberg's groundbreaking research, the Guide Book of United States
Paper Money, Fifth Edition, includes an engaging history of the paper currency of the United States. Every federal note—from the ultra-rare Demand Notes of 1861 ...
Have you ever wished you knew more about American history but wouldn't go back to
those boring classes you took for anything?If so, this book will help. Author Robert MacDougall takes readers time travelling from 1776 to the present--hitting the ...
Heroes, traitors, and great thinkers come to life in this activity book, and the concepts
of freedom and democracy are celebrated in true accounts of the distinguished officers, wise delegates, rugged riflemen, and hardworking farm wives and children who created ...
“Excellent . . . deserves high praise. Mr. Taylor conveys this sprawling continental history with
economy, clarity, and vividness.”Brendan Simms, Wall Street JournalThe American Revolution is often portrayed as a high-minded, orderly event whose capstone, the Constitution, provided the nation ...
Fought 65 years ago this December, the Battle of the Bulge still ranks as the
single largest battle ever fought by the United States Army. More men, vehicles, supplies, equipment, aircraft, and effort went into this thirty-day battle than into ...
For almost four decades, Eric Foner has introduced readers of The Nation to unknown or forgottencharacters in
American history, methodically unearthing the hidden history of American radicalism. In this collection, Foner expounds on the relevance of Abraham Lincoln's legacy in the twenty-first ...
This book is a supplement to the textbook Basic Technical Japanese. It introduces 100 new
kanji and more than 1500 technical terms that appear frequently in documents dealing with biotechnology, in addition to reviewing vocabulary containing the 365 kanji presented ...