Behold, America : A History of America First and the American Dream
Description: Searing and insightful, Behold America tells the unknown history of two key American phrases, 'America First' and the 'American Dream', and the role they play in the struggle in modern America What does America stand for in the twenty-first century? Behold, America confronts this urgent question by looking at the story behind two of the most contentious phrases in the American political playbook: the `American dream' and `America first'. What do these phrases tell us about America's idea of itself? What does it mean to put America first, and what exactly are Americans supposed to be dreaming of - personal wealth, political power, racial equality, political refuge, individual freedoms? What happens when these values collide? `America first' and the `American dream' were born nearly a century ago and instantly tangled over capitalism, democracy and race. Invoked most recently in Donald Trump's presidential campaign, they came to embody opposing views in the battle to define the soul of the nation. Behold, America recounts the unknown history of these two expressions using the voices that helped shape that debate, from Capitol Hill to the newsroom of the New York Times, students to senators, dreamers to dissenters. As America struggles again to project a shared vision, to itself and to the world, Sarah Churchwell argues that the meanings and history of these terms need to be understood afresh so that the true spirit of America can be reclaimed. Insightful and revelatory, Behold, America overturns everything we thought we knew about the American dream, America first and the battle for the identity of modern America.
Author Biography: Sarah Churchwell is Professor of American Literature and Chair of Public Understanding of the Humanities at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. She is the author of Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and The Invention of The Great Gatsby and The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe. Her literary journalism has appeared widely in newspapers including the Guardian, New Statesman, Financial Times, Times Literary Supplement and New York Times Book Review, and she comments regularly on arts, culture, and politics for television and radio, where appearances include Question Time, Newsnight and The Review Show. She has judged many literary prizes, including the 2017 Baillie Gifford Prize for Nonfiction, the 2014 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and she was a co-winner of the 2015 Eccles British Library Writer's Award. Her new book, Behold, America: A History of America First and the American Dream, will be published by Bloomsbury in May 2018.