cover image The Nation That Never Was: Reconstructing America’s Story

The Nation That Never Was: Reconstructing America’s Story

Kermit Roosevelt III. Univ. of Chicago, $25 (256p) ISBN 978-0-226-81761-3

Misunderstandings about the language and intent of America’s founding documents are the cause of today’s political dysfunctions, according to this impassioned revisionist history. Constitutional law scholar Roosevelt (The Myth of Judicial Activism) maintains that the values taken for granted by most Americans were not actually encapsulated in the Declaration of Independence, because the statement “All men are created equal” was not intended to mean that all people have equal rights. Delving into the precise language of the Declaration, the Federalist Papers, the Constitution, and other landmark texts, Roosevelt documents the founding fathers’ problematic views on race and slavery and makes the strong case that Americans today are more properly the heirs of the people who “rejected the Founders’ Constitution”: President Lincoln and other proponents of Reconstruction, “which for all its failures was born from the belief that we fight not only for ourselves, that we should lift up even those we did not push down, and that the future can be better than the past.” Astute textual analysis, careful historical research, and a deep commitment to social justice make this an inspiring reexamination of America’s past. (Apr.)