Short book review: The Whites of their Eyes by Jill Lepore

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The Whites of their Eyes by Jill LeporeIf you’re like me and you know very little about American history, and you’re bemused by the rise of the conservative Tea Party movement in US politics, then this book is for you.

Jill Lepore is a Massachusetts professor of Revolutionary history. She too was intrigued by the rise of the Tea Party – which is so divorced from the original Boston tea party, and decided to document the rise of the conservative movement. The Whites of their Eyes is the result – an engaging exercise in contrasting contemporary perceptions of the US Revolution with the documented reality.

An interesting motif that runs through The Whites of their Eyes is the anti-intellectualism of the Tea Party, and the rejection of non-conservative interpretations of Revolutionary history. The Tea Party’s (and the Republican’s in general) depiction of the Revolution is simply factually wrong on many levels. This of course doesn’t matter – conservatives reject any other interpretation as liberal propaganda.

As someone with relatively little background of the American revolution or the founding, or the biographies of the various founders (interestingly, the term “Founding Fathers” was not used until the late 1800s), this book was a great primer. Lepore doesn’t just look at the main “movers and shakers” but digs into the lives and views of “normal” people who lived at the time.

The scariest thing about this book is that it exposes (to a “liberal” audience) how the conservative movement is rewriting history to serve its own agenda. The same is starting to happen in Australia. It is downright dangerous.

[box type=”info” border=”full”]You can get The Whites of their Eyes from Amazon.[/box]

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