The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History

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Princeton University Press, Oct 12, 2010 - History - 224 pages
31 Reviews

Americans have always put the past to political ends. The Union laid claim to the Revolution--so did the Confederacy. Civil rights leaders said they were the true sons of liberty--so 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 wry and bemused 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 independence--the real one, that is. 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 past--a time less troubled by ambiguity, strife, and uncertainty--a 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 fundamentalism--anti-intellectual, antihistorical, and dangerously antipluralist.


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Review: The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History

User Review  - Nick - Goodreads

There is quite a bit to be said for Jill Lepore's concise indictment of "historical fundamentalism." Though she weaves without warning through the Revolution, the Bicentennial, and the emergence of ... Read full review

Review: The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History (Public Square)

User Review  - Jim Drewery - Goodreads

The ideal of what it means to be a true patriot, or a real American if you will, has proven to be an evolving quality over the past two hundred plus years, as Professor Lepore's insightful look at the ... Read full review

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About the author (2010)

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.

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