"That wall might or might not be built. But even if it remains only in its phantasmagorical, budgetary stage, a perpetual negotiating chip between Congress and the White House, the promise of a two- thousand- mile- long, thirty- foot- high ribbon of concrete and steel running along the United States’ southern border serves its purpose. It’s America’s new myth, a monument to the final closing of the frontier. It is a symbol of a nation that used to believe that it had escaped history, or at least strode atop history, but now finds itself trapped by history, and of a people who used to think they were captains of the future, but now are prisoners of the past."
— from the Introduction to The End of the Myth
“One of our most gifted writers and thinkers, Greg Grandin has given us a history of the United States like none other. It is a history written from our ever-shifting and expanding borders, a history of our quest to escape history, and a history of how that history has now caught up with us. The End of the Myth bubbles with ideas, insights, and challenges (and often with wry humor), offering essential perspective on our current condition.” —Steven Hahn, author of A Nation Under Our Feet
“A great book. Brilliant, erudite, and above all else fresh, The End of Myth offers a genuinely new, compelling, and historically informed framework for understanding the madness of this political moment.” —Chris Hayes, author of A Colony in a Nation
“Many historians have recounted the legend-encrusted saga of American expansionism. Written with insight, passion, and uncompromising moral clarity, The End of the Myth renders all prior interpretations obsolete. The Age of Trump needs history that is both bold and subversive. On both counts, Greg Grandin delivers.” —Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Twilight of the American Century
“‘If you want to avoid civil war, you must become imperialists,’ Cecil Rhodes once said. The End of the Myth trenchantly relates how an American dream of expansion and growth managed to contain domestic disaffection, and reveals the perils of a shattered imperial fantasy. Describing the consequences of an exhausted imperialism, Grandin illuminates, like few have, our treacherous present. A tremendous book.” —Pankaj Mishra, author of Age of Anger
“What happens when expansion is no longer viable as a promise for the nation’s future and as a fix for its problems? Greg Grandin’s analysis of our current political moment is historical, erudite, provocative, and beautifully written.” —Mae Ngai, author of Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America
“A compelling examination of the American history of frontiers, by one of the most innovative and imaginative historians in any field. Troubling but inspiring, this is intellectual history for a broad readership; its sweep and force are stunning. Grandin brilliantly gives our current conditions of aggression, nostalgia, and racism deep historical grounding for the benefit of all who will listen.” —David W. Blight, author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom
“This book is an extraordinarily incisive look at the myths that Americans have used to evade our real situation and the responsibilities we might have to one another as members of a democracy. It is also a rich, illuminating, and unsettling retelling of American history as the story of these evasions and the harm they have done—and the countercurrents we might still hope to draw on to build a deeper and better democracy.” —Jedediah Purdy, author of After Nature: A Politics for the Anthropocene
From a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a new and eye-opening interpretation of the meaning of the frontier, from early westward expansion to Trump’s border wall.
Ever since this nation’s inception, the idea of an open and ever-expanding frontier has been central to American identity. Symbolizing a future of endless promise, it was the foundation of the United States’ belief in itself as an exceptional nation—democratic, individualistic, forward-looking. Today, though, America hasa new symbol: the border wall.
In The End of the Myth, acclaimed historian Greg Grandin explores the meaning of the frontier throughout the full sweep of U.S. history—from the American Revolution to the War of 1898, the New Deal to the election of 2016. For centuries, he shows, America’s constant expansion—fighting wars and opening markets—served as a “gate of escape,” helping to deflect domestic political and economic conflicts outward. But this deflection meant that the country’s problems, from racism to inequality, were never confronted directly. And now, the combined catastrophe of the 2008 financial meltdown and our unwinnable wars in the Middle East have slammed this gate shut, bringing political passions that had long been directed elsewhere back home.
It is this new reality, Grandin says, that explains the rise of reactionary populism and racist nationalism, the extreme anger and polarization that catapulted Trump to the presidency. The border wall may or may not be built, but it will survive as a rallying point, an allegorical tombstone marking the end of American exceptionalism.
“A tour d’force. Greg Grandin exposes Kissinger’s vaunted approach to statecraft as little more than compulsive activism, typically relying on the threat or use of force, ignorant of history, devoid of any moral or ethical component, and discounting serious analysis in favor of intuition. Some realism. The field of Kissinger Studies begins here, with this book.” —Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War
“A brilliant, original, carefully researched and wide-ranging book. It will change the way we understand the United States’ role in the world during the past half-century.” —Ben Kiernan, author of Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur
“Nearly forty years after leaving government Henry Kissinger still casts an improbably vast shadow: puppet master of detente, shuttle diplomatist as canny magician, statesman as superstar. But as Greg Grandin shows in his absorbing tour de force, Kissinger casts a much more immediate -- and malign -- shadow over the country's foreign policy, one in which acts of overwhelming violence are deemed vital to American "leadership" and "credibility." Hovering over the Iraq War, no less than over Vietnam, is the spirit of Henry Kissinger. Grandin, with scrupulous research and impassioned prose, lets us see it. An essential and most timely book.” —Mark Danner, author of Stripping Bare the Body: Politics, Violence, War
“Greg Grandin’s brilliant account of Kissinger does far more than just limn the criminality of the man. He strips Kissinger's vaunted realism to the bone revealing a skeleton of romantic American exceptionalism and a loving embrace of the will to power for power’s sake. Kissinger's Shadow reveals the in-built denial mechanism of our all-pervasive national security state, which will never let past catastrophe get in the way of bold action in the future.” —Marilyn Young, author of The Vietnam Wars
Kissinger's Shadow: The Long Reach of America's Most Controversial Statesman (August 25, 2015)
A new account of America's most controversial diplomat that moves beyond praise or condemnation to reveal Kissinger as the architect of America's current imperial stance
Going beyond accounts focusing either on Kissinger's crimes or accomplishments, Grandin offers a compelling new interpretation of the diplomat's continuing influence on how the United States views its role in the world.
The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World (January 14, 2014)
The story of a remarkable slave rebellion that illuminates America’s struggle with slavery and freedom during the Age of Revolution and beyond
“The Empire of Necessity is scholarship at its best. Greg Grandin’s deft penetration into the marrow of the slave industry is compelling, brilliant and necessary.”
“In this multifaceted masterpiece, Greg Grandin excavates the relentlessly fascinating history of a slave revolt to mine the enduring dilemmas of politics and identity in a New World where the Age of Freedom was also the Age of Slavery. This is that rare book in which the drama of the action and the drama of ideas are equally measured, a work of history and of literary reflection that is as urgent as it is timely.”
—Philip Gourevitch, co-author of the The Ballad of Abu Ghraib
“Greg Grandin has done it again. Starting with a single dramatic encounter in the South Pacific he has shown us an entire world: of multiple continents, terrible bondage and the dream of freedom. This is also a story of how one episode changed the lives of a sea captain and a great writer from the other end of the earth. An extraordinary tale, beautifully told.” —Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost
“Rooted in an event known primarily through the genius of Herman Melville’s transcendent Benito Cereno, The Empire of Necessity is a stunning work of research done all over the rims of two oceans, as well as beautiful, withering storytelling. This harrowing story of Muslim Africans trekking across South America, and ultimately a unique window on to the nature of the slave trade, the maritime worlds of the early nineteenth century, the lives lived in-between slavery and freedom all over the Americas, and even the ocean-inspired imagination of Melville. Grandin is a master of grand history with new insights.” – David W. Blight, author of A Slave No More.
“Greg Grandin is one of the best of a new generation of historians who have rediscovered the art of writing for both serious scholars and general readers. This may be his best book yet. The Empire of Necessity is a work of astonishing power, eloquence and suspense—a genuine tour de force.” —Debby Applegate, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher
“Grandin takes full command of a complicated narrative with numerous threads, and the story spills out in precisely the right tone—about midway between Joseph Conrad and Evelyn Waugh.” —The American Scholar
“Read Empire’s Workshop and the whole disastrous Bush adventure in Iraq suddenly appears as the logical continuation of a century of U.S. intervention in that sad laboratory called Latin America.” —Ariel Dorfman
“Grandin has always been a brilliant historian; now he uses his detective skills in a book that is absolutely crucial to understanding our present.” —Naomi Klein
“This remarkable and extremely well-written work is about more than the dark history of Guatemala and the cold war in Latin America. It is about how common people discover politics. It is about the roots of democracy and those of genocide. It is about the hopes and defeats of the twentieth-century left. I could not put this book down." —Eric Hobsbawm
"This remarkable recounting of popular resistance and Cold War terror in Guatemala weaves biography and history, ideology and politics, into a coherent narrative of the local embedded in the global. Greg Grandin has written a book that is moving and compelling." —Mahmood Mamdani