cover image Myth America: Historians Take on the Biggest Legends and Lies About Our Past

Myth America: Historians Take on the Biggest Legends and Lies About Our Past

Edited by Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer. Basic, $32 (400p) ISBN 978-1-5416-0139-0

Historical truths counteract America’s crisis of disinformation in these illuminating and sharply written essays gathered by Princeton historians Kruse (White Flight) and Zelizer (Burning Down the House). Seeking to discredit right-wingers who have “sought to retrofit history as a rationale for present policies and programs” and debunk more widespread myths rooted in American exceptionalism, the contributors cover a wide range of issues. Erika Lee (America for Americans) explains that xenophobic immigration laws, including the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, fail to acknowledge that foreigners don’t just “come” to the U.S., but are “pushed, lured, and brought” to serve America’s economic interests, and notes that by the time Donald Trump announced his presidential candidacy in 2015, more Mexican immigrants were returning to Mexico than arriving in the U.S. Daniel Immerwahr (How to Hide an Empire) refutes politicians from both parties who claim that the U.S. is not an empire; Karen L. Cox (No Common Ground) reveals the links between Confederate monuments, white supremacist groups, and Jim Crow laws; and Carol Anderson (The Second) documents how claims of voter fraud have been used since Reconstruction to disenfranchise minority groups. Distinguished by its impressive roster of contributors and lucid arguments, this ought to be required reading. (Oct.)