We are so pleased to welcome author Sarah Churchwell for a Lunchbreak program! She'll be discussing her new book, Behold, America: The Entangled History of America First and the American Dream with our own Jon Grand. In the New Statesman, Simon Winchester called Behold, America, "[A] fascinating history of the two intersecting tropes of modern America," and added, "The complex history of these two ideas, and the personalities of their various champions...is admirably told in Professor Churchwell's book." Professor Churchwell's work has just been longlisted for the Orwell Prize for journalism!
Our Lunchbreak programs are designed to fit into your midday schedule whether you are working from home or in the office. This program is free and open to the public. Register HERE!
About the Book: In Behold, America, Sarah Churchwell offers a surprising account of twentieth-century Americans' fierce battle for the nation's soul. It follows the stories of two phrases -- the American dream and America First -- that once embodied opposing visions for America.
Starting as a Republican motto before becoming a hugely influential isolationist slogan during World War I, America First was always closely linked with authoritarianism and white supremacy. The American dream, meanwhile, initially represented a broad vision of democratic and economic equality. Churchwell traces these notions through the 1920s boom, the Depression, and the rise of fascism at home and abroad, laying bare the persistent appeal of demagoguery in America and showing us how it was resisted. At a time when many ask what America's future holds, Behold, America is a revelatory, unvarnished portrait of where we have been.
"Behold, America is an enthralling book, almost a primer for the ferocious dialectic of US politics… Passionate, well-researched and comprehensive, it is both a document of our times and a thrilling survey of a half-forgotten and neglected dimension of the American story.’ Robert McCrum, Observer
"A timely book. It’s also a provocative one. In addition to offering some historical perspective, Churchwell has a point to make… She’s an elegant writer, and when ‘America First’ and ‘the American dream’ come head-to-head in her book during the run-up to World War II, the unexpected (and alarming) historical coincidences begin to resonate like demented wind chimes." New York Times
"Given her background as a literary critic, it is no surprise that Churchwell is in her element when discussing [fiction], but her handling of the social and political context is no less impressive… Behold, America is enormously entertaining. Churchwell is a careful and sensitive reader, writes with great vigour and has a magpie’s eye for a revealing story." Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times
About the Author: Sarah Churchwell is professor of American literature and public understanding of the humanities at the University of London. The author and editor of several previous books, including the acclaimed Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of the Great Gatsby, she is a native of Winnetka (and longtime friend of The Book Stall) now living in London.
Conversation partner Jon Grand is a longtime Book Staller and omnivorous, passionate reader--we depend on his wit and wisdom. He's interviewed a wide variety of writers, both live and via our Crowdcast events.
A Smithsonian Magazine Best History Book of 2018
The unknown history of two ideas crucial to the struggle over what America stands for