The Case for the Nation
Author, writer and historian Jill Lepore has written 10 books and also writes for the New Yorker. I have always enjoyed Lepore's work because she combines the rigor of an academic with the skills of a popular writer. Her work is interesting, topical and well written and she has the courage to tackle difficult topics and cause us to look at them in new ways. In This America: The Case for the Nation Lepore tackles the rise of nationalism and the erosion of liberalism in modern society. Nationalism as we know it today arose out of the Enlightenment and the French revolution and the results of the Napoleonic conquests which carved Europe up into a collection of nation states and European colonial expansion which spread the nation state across the globe. Lepore frames her discussion as a conflict between liberal nationalism and illiberal nationalism. Lepore traces the history of nation states and digs out both their dark side and their promise. She shows how in this country the nation has always excluded people from its protection of citizenship. Her discussion of the history of the nation in the US sheds light on the many atrocities that have been done it its name - such as slavery, the conquest of native people and the mistreatment of immigrants. She traces these sins back to the nation's roots in the constitution. She also shows, how in confronting these injustices, a more liberal notion of the nation evolved and she shows how America today emerged from the conflict between the illiberal nationalism that preserves injustices and the liberal one that attempts to overcome them. In a time when nearly everyone is willing to kick Liberalism to the curb, Lepore writes a thoughtful defense worth reading by everyone. She advocates that we can fight prejudice, intolerance, and injustice by returning to our liberal roots.