Combining her own interviews with Tea Partiers and her vast knowledge of the nation’s founding fathers, Harvard history professor and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore takes the Tea Party movement to task over their reading of American history in her new book The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History. It’s not so much a partisan indictment as a warning of historical proportions to the current Tea Party, that in order to gain a permanent place in American politics, it must summit more than a deft publicity campaign in the battle over who can claim the country’s origins for political gain. Her analysis frames the Tea Party revolution by tracing its roots to the bicentennial in the 1970s, another time when a seemingly divided nation couldn’t agree on what story to tell about its untidy beginnings. To hear Tea Partiers tell it, they harbor nostalgia for a time less troubled by bitter partisanship, economic strife and uncertainty—and Lepore argues that is an America that never really was.
Jill Lepore, Professor of American History, Harvard University; staff writer at the New Yorker; her books include finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, and Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan and The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity, winner of the Bancroft Prize.