American Rule: How a Nation Conquered the World But Failed Its People

Dutton. Sept. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9781524745714. $29. HIST
Following up on his book about the 2016 presidential election (The People Are Going To Rise Like the Waters upon Your Shore), Sexton continues to serve as a historical myth buster, tackling the belief of America as a fair and just government of the people, and portraying instead a broken system built by and for white elites. This sweeping but selective look at American history is presented with the aim of explaining the historical events and movements that led to the election of President Donald Trump. Sexton is effective at drawing parallels between contemporary politics and historic events, looking, for example, at American fascist organizations in the 1930s as a forerunner of modern white supremacist movements, the establishment of World War I-era propaganda campaigns as a predecessor of misleading political advertising, and the rise and fall of Richard Nixon.
VERDICT Readers looking for consolation and a plan for a more just and equitable future will not find it here. Recommended primarily for those concerned by the tone and direction of American politics and seeking a better understanding of the question on which the book is framed: “How did we get here?”
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