Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
Longlisted for the National Book Award for Non-Fiction
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 has a 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.
“An essential, sweeping history of the American frontier, its end and what it has meant to our nation’s sense of itself.”—Los Angeles Times
“The End of the Myth aims, in part, to reposition race-based violence to the center of the frontier narrative [and] situate today’s calls to fortify our borders in relation to the centuries of racial animus that preceded them . . . A vital corrective to popular conceptions."—The New Yorker
“The End of the Myth kicks hard-packed certainties into dust as Grandin strides across three centuries . . . to supply rich new context to familiar events and pluck neglected ones from the shadows.”—American Scholar
“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
Reviews from Goodreads
All That Space
“America was, if it was anything, geography, pure space.”
The British colonies in North America were conceived in expansion. America was an aspiration, an errand, and an...