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And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must… and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.

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Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne. If you like Tolkien, or if you like the idea of an epic fantasy series, then you must pick up A Game of Thrones as soon as possible. Moraine is an Aes Sedai, a magician with the ability to wield the One Power, and she brings warnings of a terrible evil awakening in the world.

That very night, the village is attacked by bloodthirsty Trollocs — a fearsome tribe of beast-men thought to be no more than myth. But it is only the beginning of their troubles. If you truly love the fantasy genre, passing up a chance to read The Eye of the World would be an unbelievable mistake. Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed for ever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard! Hogwarts is a truly magical place, not only in the most obvious way but also in all the detail that the author has gone to describe it so vibrantly. It is the place that everybody wishes they could of gone to when they where eleven. This book is highly recommended to anybody between the ages of 8 and The island of Gont is a land famous for wizards.

Of these, some say the greatest — and surely the greatest voyager — is the man called Sparrowhawk. As a reckless, awkward boy, he discovered the great power that was in him — with terrifying consequences. Tempted by pride to try spells beyond his means, Sparrowhawk lets loose an evil shadow-beast in his land. Only he can destroy it, and the quest leads him to the farthest corner of Earthsea.

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These novels can be read by children and enjoyed from the perspective of magic, wizards, adventure and the beautifully imagined world of Earthsea. They can also be appreciated by adults for the thought-provoking elements that the book conjures. This is a collection that makes you think and leaves you thinking. In a faraway land where members of the royal family are named for the virtues they embody, one young boy will become a walking enigma. Born on the wrong side of the sheets, Fitz, son of Chivalry Farseer, is a royal bastard cast out into the world, friendless and lonely.

Only his magical link with animals — the old art known as the Wit — gives him solace and companionship. But the Wit, if used too often, is a perilous magic, and one abhorred by the nobility. So when Fitz is finally adopted into the royal household, he must give up his old ways and embrace a new life of weaponry, scribing, courtly manners; and how to kill a man secretly, as he trains to become a royal assassin. She writes beautifully and her characters are so real you can almost touch them.

The moles of Duncton Wood live in the shadow of Mandrake, a cruel tyrant corrupted by absolute power. A solitary young mole, Bracken, is thrown into leading the fight to free Duncton Wood. It is unfortunate that this work must be compared to Watership Down but that is the only book with which I can really compare it to in terms of story-line and excellence. This book is about moles and unlike anything you have ever read before. The animal kingdom is savage and survival of the fittest is a fact of life or death.

This is a book for adults and is at times as dark as it is uplifting. The book was first published in and has since become a best-selling novel. Read our review of Duncton Wood , the first book in the Duncton Chronicles. He called himself Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever, because he dared not believe in the strange alternative world on which he suddenly found himself — the Land. But the Land tempted him. As a leper, in his own world he had been an outcast, unclean, a pariah.

Only the mystic powers of the white gold he carried could protect the Lords of the Land from the ancient evil of the Despiser, Lord Foul. Yet Thomas Covenant had no idea how those powers could be tapped…. But the effort spent in reading this series is rewarded ten-times over and I recommend that every fantasy fan read this seminal work.

Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son and has been apprenticed to the local Spook. The job is hard, the spook is distant and many apprentices have failed before him. Somehow Thomas must learn how to exorcise ghosts, contain witches and bind boggarts. But when he is tricked into freeing Mother Malkin, the most evil witch in the Country, the horror begins….


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Chilling, memorable, full of wonderful characters and written in a fluid style that makes the narrative accessible to all ages. Deep within the wildwood lies a place of myth and mystery, from which few return, and none remain unchanged. Ryhope Wood may look like a three-mile-square fenced-in wood in rural Herefordshire on the outside, but inside, it is a primeval, intricate labyrinth of trees, impossibly huge, unforgettable. Stephen Huxley has already lost his father to the mysteries of Ryhope Wood.

On his return from the Second World War, he finds his brother, Christopher, is also in thrall to the mysterious wood, wherein lies a realm where mythic archetypes grow flesh and blood, where love and beauty haunt your dreams, and in promises of freedom lies the sanctuary of insanity…. Mythago Wood is a fantasy masterpiece.

Read our review of Mythago Wood , book one of the Mythago Cycle. Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Reasonable rates. So when the Chicago P. Takes a wizard to catch a — well, whatever. Read our review of Storm Front , book one in the Dresden Files series. Acheron Hades has been kidnapping characters from works of fiction and holding them ransom. Jane Eyre is gone. Thursday sets out to find a way into the book to repair the damage. In my opinion this book really takes the fantasy fiction genre further.

It combines some great elements that truly make this book comes to life in more than one dimension. Combining funny and witty dialogues but also numerous literary ideas with the bookworms and names of several of the characters make this a terrific read and should be compulsory for everyone. Stephen King introduces readers to one of his most enigmatic heroes, Roland of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger.

He is a haunting figure, a loner, on a spellbinding journey into good and evil, in a desolate world which frighteningly echoes our own. In his first step towards the powerful and mysterious Dark Tower, Roland encounters an alluring woman named Alice, begins a friendship with Jake, a kid from New York, and faces an agonising choice between damnation and salvation as he pursues the Man in Black.

And as we read they form a tender and loving relationship that is pivotal to all that follows. Read our review of The Gunslinger , book one in the Dark Tower series. Quint, son of sky pirate captain, and new apprentice to Linius Pallitax, the Most High Academe, has been set some highly important tasks. Here, they unwittingly invoke an ancient curse — the curse of the gloamglozer…. Read our review of Curse of the Gloamglozer , book one of the Edge Chronicles. Darkness wars with darkness as the hard-bitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must. They bury their doubts with their dead.

Then comes the prophecy: The White Rose has been reborn, somewhere, to embody good once more…. This book is beautifully amoral and contains no two-dimensional characters. Glen Cook changed the face of the fantasy genre forever — and for the better. At Crydee, a frontier outpost in the tranquil Kingdom of the Isles, an orphan boy, Pug, is apprenticed to a master magician — and the destinies of two worlds are changed forever. Suddenly the peace of the Kingdom is destroyed as mysterious alien invaders swarm the land.

Pug is swept up into the conflict but for him and his warrior friend, Tomas, an odyssey into the unknown has only just begun. Tomas will inherit a legacy of savage power from an ancient civilization. Understandably, this is one of the highest regarded fantasy series of all time. Read our review of Magician , book one of the Riftwar Saga. Fierce and proud, the Rigante dwell deep in the green mountain lands, worshiping the gods of air and water, and the spirits of the earth.

Among them lives a warrior who bears the mark of fate. Born of the storm that slew his father, he is Connavar, and tales of his courage spread like wildfire. The Seidh — a magical race as old as time — take note of the young warrior and cast a malignant shadow across his life. For soon a merciless army will cross the water, destroying forever the timeless rhythms of life among the Rigante.

Swearing to protect his people, Connavar embarks on a quest that will take him into the heart of the enemy. Along the way, he receives a gift: a sword as powerful and deadly as the Seidh who forged it. Thus he receives a name that will strike fear into the hearts of friend and foe alike — a name proclaiming a glorious and bitter destiny… Demonblade. A Tavern brawler who selflessly stands up when faced with injustice. A Drunkard that, without a moment of hesitation, sacrifices his life in favour of an innocent family. A Burly woodcutter that travels to all corners of the world to rescue his captured crush.

A pacifistic priest forced to slay numerous enemies. These tales tell of honour and glory, duty and loyalty, courage and resolve, all coated in a wonderful blend of action, black humour and suspense. Twoflower was a tourist, the first ever seen on the Discworld. Tourist, Rincewind decided, meant idiot.

Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smell very much like our own, but which looks completely different. It plays by different rules. Certainly it refuses to succumb to the quaint notion that universes are ruled by pure logic and the harmony of numbers.

Its very existence is about to be threatened by a strange new blight: the arrival of the first tourist, upon whose survival rests the peace and prosperity of the land. But if the person charged with maintaining that survival in the face of robbers, mercenaries and, well, Death is a spectacularly inept wizard, a little logic might turn out to be a very good idea….

Once you have read and enjoyed one Discworld novel you may find yourself making your way through the whole series. Read our review of The Colour of Magic , book one of the Discworld series. The above are just the first ten books in the Discworld series, click here for the complete list. In a world struggling back from the brink of apocalypse, life is harsh. But for Elspeth Gordie, born with enhanced mental abilities, it is also dangerous. Survival is only by secrecy and so she determines never to use her forbidden powers.

But it is as if they have their own imperative and she is brought to the attention of the totalitarian Council that rules the Land. Banished to the remote mountain institution of Obernewtyn, she must throw off her cloak of concealment and pit herself against those that would resurrect the terrible forces of the apocalypse. Only then will she learn most truly who and what she is …Elspeth is determined to uncover the plot and so, accompanied only by her cat, Maruman, embarks on a terrible adventure full of danger, the conclusion to which promises not just uncertainty about her safety but also that of many around her.

Read our review of Obernewtyn , the first book in the series. In Einarinn, the secret of magic is known only by an elite few. They live in deliberate isolation, under the watchful eye of the Archmage. But nothing last for ever. Livak is a part-time thief and a full-time gambler, long accustomed to living by her wits and narrowly avoiding serious trouble. When she attempts to sell a stolen antique to a passing merchant, she finds herself pulled into a new and dangerous world of political intrigue in which the stakes are higher than anyone involved can imagine.

For the antique she has acquired dates from a particular period in the history of Einarrin about which little is known, but much has been speculated. And when the truth begins to emerge, Livak decides to take the greatest gamble of her life. The Legend. Druss, Captain of the Axe: the stories of his life were told everywhere.

Instead of the wealth and fame he could have claimed, he had chosen a mountain lair, high in the lonely country bordering on the clouds. There the grizzled old warrior kept company with snow leopards and awaited his old enemy death. The Fortress. Mighty Dros Delnoch, protected by six outer walls, the only route by which an army could pass through the mountains. It was the stronghold of the Drenai empire.

And now it was the last battleground, for all else had fallen before the Nadir hordes. And hope rested on the skills of that one old man…. The Raven are an elite. For years their only loyalty has been to themselves, and to their code. But that time is coming to an end. The Wytch Lords have escaped and The Raven find themselves fighting for the Dark College of magic, on a mission which soon becomes a race for the secret location of Dawnthief. But as she trudged through the forest, using her long walk home to contemplate her depressing future — and the expulsion it was bound to hold — a horse burst through the woodland and charged straight for her.

Wherever his horse was taking him, he would be dead before they got there. He had sworn to carry out his mission as a Green Rider — one of the legendary messengers of the king — and he has a life or death message that must reach King Zachary. Karigan may be unable to save him, but she can deliver his message. Caught up in a world of deadly danger and complex magic, compelled by forces she cannot understand, her simple promise to deliver a letter is about to become a race against time… and a race for her life…. One man, Richard Cypher, holds the key to the fate of three nations, of humanity.

And his biggest problem is admitting that magic exists at all…A novel of incomparable scope and brimming with atmospheric detail: in a world where heart hounds stalk the boundaries for unwary human prey, blood-sucking flies hunt on behalf of their underworld masters, and where artists can draw more than your likeness, there is no place to hide, nowhere safe. Here magic makes love twice as sweet, betrayal and loss twice as bitter.

Seven days. Seven keys. Seven virtues — and seven sins. The moment Arthur meets sinister Mister Monday, the world turns inside out. The next seven days will bring seven fearful challenges — and a billion grisly ways to die. As his world is attacked by a plague of hellish creatures, Arthur retreats into a mysterious house , a house that only he can see. Inside, unlikely hero Arthur must unravel the secrets of the Seven Keys, battling monsters and treacherous Denizens in a bid to save his world….

Once a fabled Blade of Namara, Aral Kingslayer fought for justice and his goddess alongside his familiar, a living shadow called Triss. Now with their goddess murdered and her temple destroyed, they are among the last of their kind. Surviving on the fringes of society, Aral becomes a drunken, broken and wanted man, working whatever shadowy deal comes his way. Until a mysterious woman hires him to deliver a secret message — one than can either redeem or doom him.

A battle is coming… And in that battle shall be decided the fate of the world. Myths tell of the ancient wars of Gods and men, and a powerful object — the Orb — that ended the bloodshed. As long as it was held by the line of Riva, it would assure the peace. But a dark force has stolen the Orb, and the prophecies tell of war. Young farm boy Garion knows nothing of myth or fate.

But then the mysterious Old Storyteller visits his aunt, and they embark on a sudden journey. Pursued by evil forces, with only a small band of companions they can trust, Garion begins to doubt all he thought he knew…. It has lain lost and forgotten for fifteen hundred years in the ancient heartland of England — a scrap of glass and metal melded by fierce fire. It is the lost core of a flawless Sphere made by the greatest of the Anglo-Saxon CraeftLords in memory of the one he loved. Her name was Spring and contained in the very heart of this work is a spark from the Fires of Creation.

But while humans have lost their belief in such things, the Hydden — little people existing on the borders of our world — have not. Breaking the silence of centuries they send one of their own, a young boy, Jack, to live among humans in the hope that he may one day find what has been lost for so long. It is only through their voyage into the dangerous Hyddenworld that they will realize their destiny, find love and complete the great quest that will save both their worlds from destruction.

The Chronicles of Narnia have enchanted millions of readers over the last fifty years and the magical events described in C. For here is a world where a witch decrees eternal winter; where there are more talking animals than people; and where battles are fought by Centaurs, Giants and Fauns. As the sun sets, people have no choice but to take shelter behind magical wards and pray that their protection holds until the creatures dissolve with the first signs of dawn.

Believing that there is more to his world than to live in constant fear, he must risk leaving the safety of his wards to discover a different path. Publicly shamed, she is reduced to gathering herbs and tending an old woman more fearsome than the corelings.

Yet in her disgrace, she becomes the guardian of dangerous ancient knowledge. Orphaned and crippled in a demon attack, young Rojer takes solace in mastering the musical arts of a Jongleur, only to learn that his unique talent gives him unexpected power over the night. Together, these three young people will offer humanity a last, fleeting chance of survival. In the desert colony of Khandar, a dark and mysterious magic, hidden for centuries, is about to emerge from darkness.

Winter Ihernglass, fleeing her past and masquerading as a man, just wants to go unnoticed. Finding herself promoted to a command, she must rise to the challenge and fight impossible odds to survive. Their fates rest in the hands of an enigmatic new Colonel, sent to restore order while following his own mysterious agenda into the realm of the supernatural. A warrior with nothing to fight for is paired with a thieving assassin with nothing to lose. Together they must steal a treasure that no one can reach.

Now if Arcadius can just keep Hadrian and Royce from killing each other, they just might succeed. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions. Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors, learning the art of war. But that day will come all too soon. Only when he loses those he loves will he learn the true price of courage. The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed in battle, the earth running dark with their heartsblood. Although the giant-clans were broken in ages past, their ruined fortresses still scar the land. But now giants stir anew, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of giant wyrms.

Those who can still read the signs see a threat far greater than the ancient wars. Sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield. Then there will be a war to end all wars. High King Aquilus summons his fellow kings to council, seeking an alliance in this time of need. Prophesy indicates darkness and light will demand two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. Every generation can point to a fantasy book or series that defines their teenage years. Currently, that would likely be Harry Potter; for those now edging towards or into their 40s it would be Dragonlance.

Think of the manpower and the cost expended for no evident purpose. The question has puzzled many scholars. Typically, they were loaded into cattle cars—unheated in winter, unventilated in summer—packed as densely as possible, meaning that sometimes there was so little space that some prisoners hung between others without their legs reaching the floor.

They were barely fed—or fed on salt herring, and not given water. Not right away, true, only on the second day.


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In this way a trip from Moscow to Petropavlovsk took three weeks. With his trademark irony, Solzhenitsyn repeats that none of this was done to torture the prisoners! What he means, we soon understand, is that such treatment was so routine it did not count as torture. Why treat people like this? If the point was to kill them, it was a lot easier to shoot them straight off, as, in fact, was done to millions.

If the point was to provide manpower for the slave labor camps, as Anne Applebaum has suggested, then why let so many laborers die en route? To answer this question, one must first grasp Bolshevik ethics. So far as I know, it has no precedent in world history. Only someone who rejected all religious or quasi-religious morals could be a Bolshevik because, as Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and other Bolshevik leaders insisted, the only standard of right and wrong was success for the Party.

B ol shevik ethics explicitly began and ended with atheism. The bourgeoisie falsely claim we have no ethics, Lenin explained in a speech. For a true materialist, Lenin maintained, there can be no Kantian categorical imperative to regard others only as ends, not as means. By the same token, the materialist does not acknowledge the supposed sanctity of human life. Until recently, I supposed such statements meant that if it should be necessary to kill people, then it is permissible to do so.

That is what the anarchist Peter Kropotkin had maintained, but the Bolsheviks rejected this formulation as sheer sentimentality. For the Bolsheviks, there was no such moral law. The only moral criterion was the interests of the Party, and so they trained followers to overcome their instinctive compassion. In short, all things equal, violent means were preferable. Mercy, kindness, compassion: these were all anti-Bolshevik emotions, and schoolchildren were taught to reject them. I know of no previous society where children were taught that compassion and mercy are vices.

Do unto class enemies what you would not want them to do unto you.

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That is why, starting in mid, torture became mandatory. What objection could be raised? It was positively good to arrest the innocent. When Stalin assigned arrest quotas, local nkvd branches asked to arrest even more. We sought an explanation for those prisoner cattle cars, but it should now be clear that it is not cruelty that requires explanation but the reverse.

To ask the reason for cruelty is to ask the wrong question. People sometimes ask the reason for slavery, but since slavery was practiced everywhere for most of human history, the right question is the opposite one: why was slavery eventually abolished in many places? In the Bolshevik context, it is mercy and compassion that require explanation. I s it any wonder that many Russians began to accept absolute standards of right and wrong? This was the great conversion.

Kopelev, Solzhenitsyn, and others describe the key event of their life as the discovery that just as the universe contains causal laws it also contains moral laws. Bolshevik horror derived from the opposite view: that there is nothing inexplicable in materialist terms and that the only moral standard is political success. In her celebrated memoir Into the Whirlwind , Evgeniya Ginzburg describes how her nkvd interrogator tempted her to implicate another person who, he said, had already denounced her.

She has invoked standards that a Christian, but not a committed atheist, would accept. Among Gulag memoirists, even the atheists acknowledge that the only people who did not succumb morally were the believers. Many, including Solzhenitsyn, took the next step and accepted God.

Why not remain an atheist who believes in an absolute moral law? Great novels test ideas not by their logical coherence, as in academic philosophy, but by the consequences of believing them. Novels of ideas—whether by George Eliot or Tolstoy, Joseph Conrad or Dostoevsky, Henry James or Turgenev—exhibit a masterplot: a hero or heroine devoted to an idea discovers that reality is much more complex than the idea allows. Prolonged suffering is always insignificant; significant suffering is of short duration.

What about ten years of solitary confinement in a cell where you cannot stretch your legs? Is that significant or insignificant? Stalin, for instance, enjoyed killing people—so that, for him, was good? How wise such philosophy seems to a free person! But for Volodin, good and evil are now distinct entities.

Thinking novelistically, Solzhenitsyn asks: how well does morality without God pass the test of Soviet experience? Every camp prisoner sooner or later faced a choice: whether or not to resolve to survive at any price. Do you take the food or shoes of a weaker prisoner? From this point the roads go to the right and to the left. If you go to the right—you lose your life; and if you go to the left—you lose your conscience. Which religion they professed did not seem to matter.

Ginzburg describes how a group of semi-literate believers refused to go out to work on Easter Sunday. In the Siberian cold, they were made to stand barefoot on an ice-covered pond, where they continued to chant their prayers. Were we to admire or regard them as mad? They drafted the first secular constitution the world had ever seen—one which did not mention God or Christianity a single time—and one that mentioned religion only for the purposes of granting religious liberty. Augustine or any religious figure in his list.

How familiar do you think the current president is with the writings of Aristotle or Montesquieu? This is the essence of democracy as a political experiment; everyone is free to express their views, and differences of opinion are resolved through debates and votes rather than through violence. This is Enlightenment philosophy applied to the founding of a nation.

Of course, the implementation of this ideal was far from perfect. It was not lost on anyone that the author of the Declaration of Independence owned hundreds of slaves. While arguing against the arbitrary power of English rule and stating that all men were created equal, Jefferson simultaneously denied liberty to hundreds of African Americans working his plantation. At the same time, Jefferson was ambivalent about slavery and did work to gradually end the slave trade, while others like Benjamin Lay were strident abolitionists even before the Revolutionary War.

And so slavery, an obvious stain on the character of the United States, was a complicated issue with people on both sides and sometimes on both sides at the same time. While the United States has much to be ashamed of in regard to slavery and racism, the founders established the principles that the country could slowly live up to, even if the founders themselves fell short. By establishing a country based on the principles of reason, democracy, freedom, and equality, rather than on religion or divine rule, the founders set up the conditions for continued progress.

But progress, like always, depends on living up to the ideals of reason, free speech, humanism, liberty, and equality, and not backsliding into religiosity, racism, violence, and authoritarianism. And, like always, it also depends on an informed public, able to leverage the power of their own reason without falling victim to the manipulation of mass media or to the echo chambers of their favorite news outlet or internet site.

As citizens of the US, each of us has access to more information than any previous generation, yet in practice most of us consume information from a much narrower range of sources. The remedy to the problem of mass manipulation has always been the same: the development of critical thinking skills within the population, a commitment to reason, intellectual humility, and the toleration of competing viewpoints that can be debated in a civilized manner. Regardless of which technology becomes available, progress forever hinges on our ability to live up to these ideals and these truths.

View all 4 comments. One of my favorite genres to read in nonfiction are broad, sweeping narratives of American history. And folks, let me tell you: this one does not disappoint. Jill Lepore is an absolute phenom when it comes to historical context, adding new layers and elements to many of the most complicated eras in our short history. That said, Lepore does not shy away from some of the lesser-known aspects of our history at One of my favorite genres to read in nonfiction are broad, sweeping narratives of American history.

That said, Lepore does not shy away from some of the lesser-known aspects of our history at least, lesser-known to me. The early America coverage, including that of Columbus and the first settlers in Jamestown, is particularly interesting, though I only wish there had been more.

It doesn't feel rushed, but Lepore certainly focuses her immense talents on the later 19th century and the monumental 20th century. Of particular note was Lepore's routine hearkening back to the framers of the constitution when looking at some of our more modern problems—putting them into historical context.

And much of the darker side of American history, sorely lacking from many previous tomes in the past, is skillfully uncovered here. All in all, THESE TRUTHS is a splendid and engrossing look at the history of the world's first dominant democracy, and the dangers that lie ahead if we continue to lose our way by disregarding the hard truths of our past. This book has been heavily touted. That makes it all the more disconcerting to see an error as early as page 8 and a whopper to boot. Tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, maize and chiles are the obvious ones.

Hence the worries of the Separatists fears of settling in Plimouth in , even though they had no charter from the crown for anywhere. By page 45 or so, I realized that I would find little to nothing in the book in the way of facts that were new to me. So, I started skipping and grokking. Flame me, those who will. Ignores larger background of Shays Rebellion, and issues related to this in the Washington Administration, ie, the promissory notes for land offered to veterans, speculation on them and repurchase, etc.

And the Founders knew that. World War I take? El Paso is at the 32nd parallel. Indeed, Polk even specifically mentions the 32nd parallel in his December, State of the Union. Even worse, on her Polk land-seeking claims, this heavily footnoted book had NO footnotes. It went back to the ethnic numbers of the Census. In the US, it goes back at least as far as Teddy Roosevelt. The unions saw health insurance as a recruiting tool. Basically, after I got a little way into the book, I began wondering what her intended audience was, and what her angle was.

Zinn had several errors of interpretation, but he had an interpretive focus. Yes, she goes intellectual with the extended references to John Locke. Yes, she goes deep history with several pages about Magna Carta without telling you it was honored by English kings more in the breach than the observance up to the time of Charles I.

Socially liberal — the repeated las Casas references as an example — but not economically leftist or close. Wikipedia says: She has said, "History is the art of making an argument about the past by telling a story accountable to evidence". I eventually grew tired of trying to figure it out. I did learn tidbits and things, and learn enough about Lepore's writing, not to one-star it. Plus, I thought a two-star review would be less easily dismissed.

From feedback there and elsewhere, as well as the absurdly high overall rating here, I have moved my review down to 1 star here. Seriously, 4.

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I smell tribalism. View all 27 comments. It's hard to write a history of the United States from the beginning to now. Lepore is perfectly suited for the task --she's a great historian and a great writer. The best thing about this American history is that it includes the women and the racial minorities that are usually left out. As such, it's a history of America--warts and all. With so much ground to cover, it would be easy to leave out the incidental players, but as Lepore shows brilliantly, it's impossible to understand America witho It's hard to write a history of the United States from the beginning to now.

With so much ground to cover, it would be easy to leave out the incidental players, but as Lepore shows brilliantly, it's impossible to understand America without showing the conflict between America in theory and America in practice. There is no new history in here and for those who read a lot of history, much of this territory is known. What I thought was missing from the book is a sense of theme or even a few threads to follow. If there are any, perhaps it is communication technology and maybe race?

I was hoping for more, which is why I was a bit disappointed by the book. But it is an excellent survey of American history--it's written well and to my ears at least, very fairly. View 2 comments. I don't read much history at all, to be honest. What Lepore does here is in some ways quite simple, but still astounding.

She gives us a political history of the United States, much like the one you've learned already but different in a few key respects. Lepore is, above all, concerned with how our national ideals have played out. After all, it's baffling how our country is founded on documents insisting that everyone is equal, but actually it just means white men. While the major political players may be having one conversation, Lepore does not forget about all the people that conversation ignores.

Even at pages, there is a lot Lepore has to leave out in a history that covers hundreds of years. But despite its length it moves along at a nice clip, never stalling for too long in one time or place. There are plenty of stops for anecdotes along the way to give color and depth and context. Honestly the only real problem I have with this book is that once I reached the 20th century I was so depressed that I had to take a long break.

I am not used to having such a clear-eyed view, we much prefer our national myths. But when you really look at it all straight on it can feel like we are a nation built not on equality, but on inequality. We are not built on justice but on suffering. And in that is a lot. Eventually I came back and got through just fine, but I have to admit that it was really hard.

I did this on audio, I do not have the fortitude for most nonfiction in print. Lepore reads it and I find her very endearing, but I suspect many readers will not agree with me. I love the sing-song way she reads quotes, contrasted with her soft, straightforward tone the rest of the time. Definitely do a sample first to see how you feel about her. Ultimately this book has had a significant impact on how I think about our national story, our mythology, and what it all means.

It is powerful and terrible to see us portrayed in all our glory and all our cruelty. View all 6 comments. This is a very, very good book. Difficult at times, depressing at others, always well-written, well-put together. Lepore wrote this book in the wake of and it shows in the narrative arc. The history starts out as the usually admiring but ambivalent tale told by a liberal historian.

Accounts of discovery and plunder, of self-government and the original sin of slavery, told very well but up to the twentieth century in a standard liberal nuanced but positively progressing narrative. However the tone strikes at first mildly discordant notes when she touches on changes in media in the twentieth century as Lepore wrote this book in the wake of and it shows in the narrative arc.

However the tone strikes at first mildly discordant notes when she touches on changes in media in the twentieth century as if lurking behind the progressive narrative is a hidden but growing discord about the self-evident truths about the American creed that would result in the apogee of progressive liberalism faltering and falling in the mid s by an information environment with mass communication that would be commandeered by those who didn't believe in self-evident truths of any kind but partisan and personal truth.

The truth of the PR specialist the lobbyist, the media consumer who is pulled by emotive messages than reasoned deliberation. These truths is literally about the project of US to live by reasoned dialogue of a polity to bring liberty, freedom, self-government, and prosperity of a democratic state the enlightenment dream and how the tools of media eventually mass media shattered the foundation of a shared truth which made that dream possible and partisan warfare and demagoguery that threaten to bring an end to a once mighty and flawed democracy to an ignoble end.

Lepore's book takes you in gets you to cheer the heroes of the past and then hits you in the gut with how it is in the process of being wrenched away by our ingenious devices which are too clever by half. Really dire book. But in These Truths, Jill Lepore selects and synthesizes events, details, and documents that create a picture of the vast sweep of American history—in all its promises and exceptionalism and, of course, in all its failures and hypocrisies.

Her prose is taut and fluid and even glimmers, at times, with beautiful metaphors, turns of phrase, and the occasional solemn re 4. Her prose is taut and fluid and even glimmers, at times, with beautiful metaphors, turns of phrase, and the occasional solemn reflection that seems to vibrate through the page. There is great value in examining the long arc of democratic experimentation that has led us to our current moment, and These Truths offers a relatively concise place to start considering this nation's complicated and often contradictory history—and to get a sense of where we may go from here.

I enjoyed learning about facts, stories, and characters I was unaware of before. That famous quote that history doesn't repeat itself but it rhymes, is so true. I saw so many echoes of the past in our present day as I read this "To study the past is to unlock the prison of the present. I saw so many echoes of the past in our present day as I read this book. Interesting, sad, and profound political history of America. I think it would do this country wonders if more people read it. I'm treating each part as a "book" for the purposes of my GR reviews so that this book isn't lingering on my "Currently Reading" shelf for 12 months or so.

Of course in a brief history you can't cover everything, but this feels unfocused at times; names will be suddenly mentioned out of the blue and some needed details are left out. For example, I had to google to find out why Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned and later executed, this text just mentioned that he was in prison, Overall, this suffered from a lack of focus, with much confusing jumping back and forth from person to person and from year to year.

I realize it's impossible to avoid some of that, but I wished for a bit less than we got. I recently finished the excellent Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America , and I thought it was interesting that Kendi showed evidence that one of the causes of the American Revolution was to maintain slavery, but in this book Lepore implies that the those in favor of abolition of slavery were the same people in favor of Revolution.

She also points out that the Caribbean colonies of Jamaica and Barbados did not participate in the Revolution because they feared additional slave rebellions, thus slavery was a reason they did not want Revolution. There's been a lot of "the Founding Fathers intended That's not working out so well, though. And Madison himself began to see the weaknesses Madison argued that it could only work if a republic were large, for two reasons. First, in a large republic, there would be more men to choose from, and so a better chance, purely as a matter of numbers, for the people to elect men who will guard the public interest.

Second, in a large republic, candidates for office, in order to be known and to appeal to so large a number of voters, would need to be both notable and worthy. Yeah, I'd say he was right about that. The "Founding Fathers" Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Hamilton, et al were really worried about holding the new country together. But the USA is such a mess right now, I wish they had just let it naturally fall apart after the Revolution. I think we'd be better off today as a group of separate but cooperative countries.

I'm feeling really hopeless about the current Administration. View all 9 comments. Whenever you read an ambitious work of history written by a single author Gibbon's Decline and Fall and Taruskin's History of Western Music come to mind , you first have to marvel at the accomplishment and then, over the course of careful reading and evaluation, come to find just how well they have represented fact while simultaneously making their opinions known - first of all to be opinions - but to be grounded in the facts already mentioned.

Many do not measure up to that initial awe-inspiri Whenever you read an ambitious work of history written by a single author Gibbon's Decline and Fall and Taruskin's History of Western Music come to mind , you first have to marvel at the accomplishment and then, over the course of careful reading and evaluation, come to find just how well they have represented fact while simultaneously making their opinions known - first of all to be opinions - but to be grounded in the facts already mentioned. Many do not measure up to that initial awe-inspiring reaction, this volume does.

In this absolutely absorbing page work, Harvard Professor and New Yorker contributor Jill Lepore has really done the impossible, that is, to take the subject of civics and deal with it honestly and fascinatingly over the course of the entirety of US history. To be clear, when talking about "civics" which is a word foreign to many and misused by even more, we are discussing the complete idea of what it means to be a citizen involving the political and theoretical dimensions as well as the rights and duties contained therein.

Rather than a mere concatenation of historical events, this book delves deeper into the motivations and philosophies of those engaged in these events from our founding as a nation through every bit of turmoil we have encountered since, providing a wealth of biographical information along the way. The discussions that Jill Lepore engages in are told with a firm commitment to facts, the very center of any discussion, and a depth of honest feeling behind every opinion expressed.

On These Truths - Public Seminar

While I enjoyed the entirety of the work I must say the most illuminating section for me was the emergence and role of the earliest political admen consultant firms along with the rise of polling firms. While of course very aware of the role they play currently, the very earliest history and machinations of said enterprises was at times shocking in the most cynical of fashions.

This is an essential book, and, if I had more hope for the intellectual aspirations of my generation, I might say could rekindle a fascination with civics in the contemporary domain. As with most works of intelligence, erudition, depth, and perspicuity; I suspect this will likely only be read by the single-digit percentage of our population who value any of those things. However, I would love to be proven wrong!

Buy this book, it's one of the most important reads for the contemporary citizen of the USA. Guess I never got around to writing a review though I could have sworn I did. I'm not going to do so now. I'll simply say this book is wonderful and should be read by everyone who cares about our current situation -- our politics, cultural upheavals, mutual distrust -- and how we got here. It hasn't been very long since I read it, but I've been listening to several podcasts with Lepore and I find myself strongly tempted to read it again or download it so that I might listen to it.

View 1 comment. A pessimistic history that runs close to pages. Of course America has committed sins, but are there any positives to be found? According to Lepore, very, very few.