Over the past few decades, the complicated divides of geography, class, religion, and race created deep fractures in the United States, each side fighting to advance its own mythology and political interests. We lack a central story, a common ground we can celebrate and enrich with deeper meaning. Unable to agree on first principles, we cannot agree on what it means to be American. As we dismantle or disregard symbols and themes that previously united us, can we replace them with stories and rites that unite our tribes and maintain meaning in our American identity?
Against this backdrop, Our American Story features leading thinkers from across the political spectrum—Jim Banks, David W. Blight, Spencer P. Boyer, Eleanor Clift, John C. Danforth, Cody Delistraty, Richard A. Epstein, Nikolas Gvosdev, Cherie Harder, Jason Kuznicki, Gerard N. Magliocca, Markos Moulitsas, Ilya Somin, Cass R. Sunstein, Alan Taylor, James V. Wertsch, Gordon S. Wood, and Ali Wyne. Each draws on expertise within their respective fields of history, law, politics, and public policy to contribute a unique perspective about the American story. This collection explores whether a unifying story can be achieved and, if so, what that story could be.
Praise and Reviews
“America is a story with a country, even more than it is a country with a story. Can we come together around a defining narrative, or make our multiple narratives cohere? This thoughtful, diverse, and often impassioned collection — featuring a distinguished cast of theorists, historians, and politicians — offers something much better than pat answers: scholarly insight, personal wisdom, and an embodiment of America’s questing spirit.”
~ Jonathan Rauch, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
“At a time of increasing political, racial, and regional tribalism, with Americans finding it difficult to relate to one another, Our American Story admirably seeks a common story.”
~ James Kirchick, author of The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues and the Coming Dark Age
“If you are confused or, like me, fearful about what is happening to the United States, please read this book. It is calming and clarifying — we have been here before. Most importantly, it is an essential step toward addressing our problems. National narratives are powerful, and in this enlightening book, scholars from many fields will help you understand the conflicting narratives that influence our political thinking and behavior today.”
~ Jonathan Haidt, Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership, New York University Stern School of Business, and author of The Righteous Mind
“The responses are all over the map, provocatively so, with some contributors stressing how this lack of a shared story and thus a shared identity has been integral to the story of America from the start.”
~ Kirkus Reviews
Media & Public Appearances
- Department of Political Science, Public Administration and Philosophy, University of Southern Indiana (24 September 2019): This discussion will take place at 4:00 p.m. in Kleymeyer Hall at the lower level of the Liberal Arts Center, followed by a reception at 5:00 p.m. in the McCutchan Art Center/Pace Galleries located next to the Kleymeyer.
- Evansville Rotary, Tropicana Evansville (20 August 2019)
- Politics and Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C. (8 June 2019)
- Volokh Conspiracy Symposium on Our American Story: The Search for a New National Narrative (7 June 2019)
- Claybourn’s ‘Our American Story’ seeks elusive unity, Howey Politics Indiana (27 May 2019)
- Have Americans Lost Their Sense of Imagination?, Law and Religion Forum (23 May 2019)
- Applied History Series, University of Southern Indiana Dept. of History (21 February 2019)
- Interview on WIBC with Abdul-Hakim Shabazz (10 November 2018)