The End of the Myth

The End of the Myth

From the Frontier to the Wall in the Mind of America

Book - 2019
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"From a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a new and eye-opening interpretation of the meaning of the frontier, from early westward expansion to Trump's border wall. Ever since this nation's inception, the idea of an open and ever-expanding frontier has been central to American identity. Symbolizing a future of endless promise, it was the foundation of the United States' belief in itself as an exceptional nation--democratic, individualistic, forward-looking. Today, though, America has a new symbol: the border wall. In The End of the Myth, acclaimed historian Greg Grandin explores the meaning of the frontier throughout the full sweep of U.S. history--from the American Revolution to the War of 1898, the New Deal to the election of 2016. For centuries, he shows, America's constant expansion--fighting wars and opening markets--served as a "gate of escape," helping to deflect domestic political and economic conflicts outward. But this deflection meant that the country's problems, from racism to inequality, were never confronted directly. And now, the combined catastrophe of the 2008 financial meltdown and our unwinnable wars in the Middle East have slammed this gate shut, bringing political passions that had long been directed elsewhere back home. It is this new reality, Grandin says, that explains the rise of reactionary populism and racist nationalism, the extreme anger and polarization that catapulted Trump to the presidency. The border wall may or may not be built, but it will survive as a rallying point, an allegorical tombstone marking the end of American exceptionalism"--
Publisher: New York :, Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company,, 2019.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781250179821
Branch Call Number: 973 GR
Characteristics: 1 volume.


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Jun 04, 2019

Perhaps the most important and relevant book you can read this year. Greg Grandin's new book tackles, as the subtitle indicates, the importance of the frontier and the border in the American imagination, but also takes on the myths, many of them false, that America propagates. Few countries have such a high, almost sacred, sense of themselves and such an ignorance (or disregard for) of the dark and violent aspects of our history. Of course, as soon as you bring this up, you're branded as "unpatriotic" or as a "hater" of America. Grandin clearly has a point of view, but he's also a careful and meticulous historian, and I don't think you can read this and not be convinced that white supremacy, imperialism, and violence towards minorities are an integral part of this country's narrative and that Trump is far from an aberration, but, rather, a culmination. Absolutely essential reading.
Grandin also wrote an award winning book about slavery. For more on border politics, pick up "The Line Becomes a River" (Cantu) and "The Devil's Highway" (Urrea).

Apr 10, 2019

This is a book that changes everything. We all know some of our history and how power and privilege "made the U.S. exceptional" as politicians like to brag. But the cruelty and unintentional outcomes are rarely talked about in detail and definitely not commonly taught. Be prepared for the discouraging fact that we have learned nothing from our history and are repeating it again today (sadly, not for the first time). As a positive, you will not be so easily misled by those in power - corporate or political.

This is a very hard book to read because it is so available and clear and true and well documented. Greg Grandin is a scholar who respects non-scholars and occasional readers of history like me. IMHO this book should be taught in every high school - let's start with Whatcom County. And definitely a great candidate for book groups.


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