Our American Story


Our American Story

The Search for a Shared National Narrative

Edited by Joshua A. Claybourn

228 pages


June 2019


$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

June 2019


$29.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

June 2019


$29.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

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, Pulitzer Prize–winner 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.

Author Bio

Joshua A. Claybourn is an author and attorney working primarily with governmental entities and elected officials. His work has appeared in USA Today, the Hill, the American Spectator, National Review Online, American Thinker, and World Magazine, as well as numerous regional publications. On television he has commented on current events on CNN and MSNBC.


“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

“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 at the 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 at the New York University Stern School of Business

Table of Contents

Joshua A. Claybourn
Part 1: Building Blocks of a National Narrative
1. Composite Nation?    
David W. Blight
2. National Narratives as Habits of Thought    
James V. Wertsch
3. The Plastic Age    
Jason Kuznicki
4. In Pursuit of an Idea: America’s Ongoing Quest    
Ali Wyne
Part 2: Conceptual Unifying Narratives
5. Can the United States Be One People?     
Gordon S. Wood
6. Holding Ourselves Together     
John C. Danforth
7. Society and Service     
Jim Banks
8. The Story of Us: Community Cohesion     
Cherie Harder
9. An American Community     
Nikolas Gvosdev
10. A Dream for Anyone and Everyone     
Markos Moulitsas
11. Foot-Voting Nation    
Ilya Somin
12. Transatlantic Perspectives     
Spencer P. Boyer
Part 3: Stories as the Basis for Narrative
13. Embattled Farmers    
Cass R. Sunstein
14. America as a Social Movement    
Eleanor Clift
15. Yankee Ingenuity    
Gerard N. Magliocca
Part 4: Skeptical Approaches to an American Story
16. American Minimalism: Why No Robust Account of National Identity Is Possible—or Desirable    
Richard A. Epstein
17. One Nation Divisible    
Alan Taylor
18. America’s Broken Narrative of Exceptionalism    
Cody Delistraty
List of Contributors    

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