Who’s Going to Make the Case for America? (I Mean, Along with Jill Lepore)

Late in her brief but thought-provoking new book, historian Jill Lepore gets down to why she would write something titled This America: The Case for the Nation: “In American history, liberals have failed, time and again, to defeat illiberalism except by making appeals to national aims and ends…Writing national history creates plenty of problems. But […]

Stirring, Terrifying, Inspiring, Troubling—Yeah, That’s America

The first thing I note about Jill Lepore’s new one-volume history of the United States is how out of style it is. In an age of disintegrating consensus and competing truths, who would dare to attempt a comprehensive narrative of our national story? Fortunately, Jill Lepore would and the result is a book you’ll surely […]

Why a Story of Fugitive Slaves May Not Just Be History

In light of the current Great Divide, there is no innocent reading of history. We mine every thesis about the Constitutional Convention or the Civil War for evidence of another agenda. History becomes covert commentary on Trump and the Resistance. So when Andrew Delbanco’s wonderful new book on fugitive slaves in antebellum America landed in […]

What If We Can’t ‘Get Past’ Sex? A Review of Entangled

The following review was originally published on The Englewood Review of Books and is republished with permission. The author is Heartlands editor, Alex Joyner. What if questions of human sexuality are not something that the United Methodist Church (UMC), like other mainline Protestant denominations, have to settle and get past, but rather are the foundation on which the […]

Jarena Lee and the Day the Preacher Stumbled: Exhortation and the Methodist Future

The preacher was in trouble.  It’s hard to take the life out of the story of Jonah, but somehow he had. Struggling preachers are not unusual.  We’ve all had a Sunday.  Or several.  But in early 19th-century Methodism, including the AME branch of Methodism, (of which this preacher was a part), the official preachers had […]

The Vicious State of Politics…Then: Ed Ayers on Heartlands-part 1 of 3

Edward Ayers is not only one of the nation’s preeminent interpreters of American History, he is a consummate storyteller and educator.  Ayers is the Tucker Boatwright Professor of the Humanities and president emeritus at the University of Richmond.  His latest book, The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America won […]

Dismantle Confederate Memorials? Let’s Build Some Different Ones

A Robert E. Lee monument is dismantled in New Orleans.  A torchlight rally in Charlottesville, Virginia to protect another one.  A lieutenant governor candidate in Virginia calls for removing all Confederate memorials and renaming all highways and buildings named for Confederate leaders. William Faulkner had it right.  “The past is never dead.  It’s not even past.” […]