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Each week at In The Past Lane, the American history podcast, host and Historian-at-Large, Edward T. O’Donnell, brings you news, stories, interviews, and special features on all things U.S. history. His aim is to be both engaging and thought-provoking, inspired by the notion that history explains the world we live in and provides insights into how to achieve a more prosperous, peaceful, and just future. So come along with us as we journey In The Past Lane.  

Jun 26, 2019

This week at In The Past Lane, the American History podcast, I speak with historian Jill Lepore, author of a one-volume history of the United States titled, These Truths: A History of the United States. Lepore is one of the nation’s most prolific and widely read historians. She combines a brilliant and engaging writing style, with extraordinary reading, research, and analysis. Over the past 20 years she’s written books on everything from King Philip’s War that tore apart New England in the 1670s to the history of Wonder Woman. She also writes insightful essays on history for the New Yorker. This latest work, a sweeping, 900-page one volume history of the United States, has garnered widespread praise and a spot on the NY Times bestseller list.

In the course of our discussion, Jill Lepore explains:

Why she chose the phrase, “These Truths” from the Declaration of Independence as the book’s title.

What those three key truths are – political equality, natural rights, and consent of the governed.

How concepts of rights like liberty and equality develop over time.

How these key American ideals were defined and codified to guarantee them to some Americans, while at the same time denying them to others. 

Why she chose to emphasize and weave together both political and social history, rather than treating them separately.

How US history has been shaped by famous people like Thomas Jefferson, as well as lesser known people who lacked formal political rights like Maria Stewart.

How developments in technology has played a key – and often underappreciated – role in US history.

How social media and a 24/7 news cycle in contemporary society has diminished Americans’ sense of the past. 

Recommended reading

Jill Lepore, These Truths: A History of the United States (WW Norton)

Jill Lepore, The Story of America: Essays on Origins

James West Davidson, A Little History of the United States

Robert V. Remini, A Short History of the United States: From the Arrival of Native American Tribes to the Obama Presidency

Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States

More info about Jill Lepore - website 

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Music for This Episode

Jay Graham, ITPL Intro (

Kevin McCleod, “Impact Moderato” (Free Music Archive)

Andy Cohen, “Trophy Endorphins” (Free Music Archive)

Blue Dot Sessions, “Sage the Hunter” (Free Music Archive)

Jon Luc Hefferman, “Winter Trek” (Free Music Archive)

The Bell, “I Am History” (Free Music Archive)

Production Credits

Executive Producer: Lulu Spencer

Technical Advisors: Holly Hunt and Jesse Anderson

Podcasting Consultant: Dave Jackson of the School of Podcasting

Podcast Editing: Wildstyle Media

Photographer: John Buckingham

Graphic Designer: Maggie Cellucci

Website by: ERI Design

Legal services: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too

Social Media management: The Pony Express

Risk Assessment: Little Big Horn Associates

Growth strategies: 54 40 or Fight

© In The Past Lane, 2019

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