Review of These Truths

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Historian and Harvard professor Jill Lepore, a determined sleuth and captivating storyteller, evaluates the principles at the core of the “political history” of the United States. She turns eloquently to Thomas Jefferson’s words from the Declaration of Independence, for “these truths”: “political equality, natural rights and the sovereignty of the people.” Lepore revisits the questions Alexander Hamilton asked in Federalist No. 1 – notably: If Americans can gain a free democracy, can they keep it? At 960 pages, her captivating overview of the complex evolution of US history connects issues from Columbus’s 1492 voyage to headlines from today. Her exhaustive index provides a practical assist in tracking Lepore’s many perceptive insights and concepts. Her approachable “civics primer” is a thoughtful guide for every US voter, for readers curious about American history – even those who aren’t history buffs – and for those who welcome a rundown on American history as viewed with a critical, informed and inquiring eye.

About the Author

Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award Jill Lepore is a Harvard University history professor and staff writer for The New Yorker


The Declaration of Independence states that “these truths” of “political equality, natural rights, and the sovereignty of the people” are “self-evident.”

Jill Lepore reports that Alexander Hamilton asked the fundamental question about the viability of American democracy. In 1787, writing under the pen name Publius, he published The Federalist Papers, which pondered what its readers would think of the newly ratified US Constitution. The Constitution isn’t easy. Just how Americans should interpret and execute its ideas has been the subject of dispute, debate and policy making throughout US history.

Alexander Hamilton’s questions about whether Americans can establish and maintain “good government” provide an essential lens for considering US history.

Hamilton asked if the people of the new country would be able to establish and maintain “good government” by making thoughtful choices – or would accident, violence, deceit and prejudice drive their destiny? Could the government, in turn, support people’s efforts to govern themselves fairly? Hamilton’s questions provide be the primary lens through which Lepore examines US history.

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What You Should Know About Politics . . . But Don’t, Fourth Edition
The Color of Money
The Red and the Blue
On the Judgment of History
The Pandemic and Political Order

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