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Inventing American History (Boston Review Books) Hardcover – March 13, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


"For William Hogeland, thinking about history is an act of moral inquiry and high citizenship. A searching and original voice."--Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland

About the Author

William Hogeland is author of The Whiskey Rebellion: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and the Frontier Rebels Who Challenged America's Newfound Sovereignty. He lives in New York City.

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Product Details

  • Series: Boston Review Books
  • Hardcover: 152 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (March 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 026201288X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262012881
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.4 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,583,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Virginia and raised in Brooklyn, New York, William Hogeland is the author of three books on founding U.S. history, "The Whiskey Rebellion" (Simon and Schuster), "Declaration" (Simon and Schuster), and "Founding Finance" (University of Texas Press), as well as a collection of essays, "Inventing American History" (Boston Review Books/MIT Press). His next book is under contract to Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Hogeland's work in history represents an unusual blend of dramatic narrative and critical interpretation. He has also written about history, music, and politics for "The Atlantic Monthly," "AlterNet," "Salon," "The New York Times," "Boston Review," and "The Huffington Post." His essay "American Dreamers" appears in Da Capo's "Best Music Writing 2009," edited by Greil Marcus. Hogeland also contributed the chapter on insurrections to "A Blackwell Companion to American Military History."

Hogeland's blog is at He has an online self-publishing venture at He posts at http://twitter/WilliamHogeland, and his Facebook author page is

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By James Halverson on May 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
These essays all exhibit erudite scholarship, imaginative insights, a passionate involvement in American history and culture, and superb writing. Hogeland makes every page dramatic with telling details and little-known facts. Who would have imagined that two charismatic figures as disparate as William F. Buckley, Jr. and Pete Seeger had anything in common, but Hogeland's account of their often intentionally obscured early years elicits important similarities. And a walk with him through The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia is eye-opening and somewhat disturbing.
I considered withholding one star from my rating only because I was frustrated that there were only three sections in this superb book. I wanted more!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on July 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this short, provocative book, consisting of three essays, the author is concerned that popular, standard history often distorts historical reality and can even approach the level of whitewash. Of course, history is not easy. Sometimes even facts are in short supply, but interpretation of the past often conforms to the agenda of historians or to a generally accepted "consensus" that avoids contradictory information.

In the first essay, the author takes on the notion that Alexander Hamilton is perhaps the most important founder, given that the US to some extent followed his economic vision making it the foremost industrial power in the world with a strong financial system. He is, to some, the exemplar for "national-greatness conservatism." But the author notes that Hamilton was in fact elitist in his thinking, not democratic. He was an admirer of the British monarchy. His financial policies favored rich bondholders. He quickly led the charge to suppress the Whiskey rebels when they objected to his whiskey taxation policies that put small producers at a disadvantage.

Secondly, the author notes that the portrayal of charismatic individuals often hides their problematical sides. For example, Peter Seeger is known for his folk music. What is seldom revealed is that as a member of the Communist Party all through the 1930s and 40s, he followed the Party line, often ignoring the excesses of Stalinism. It was he and others who grafted radicalism onto down-home, banjo-picking music. The acerbic intellectual William Buckley may have been the darling of conservatives in opposition to the welfare state, but what has been lost is his advocacy for white superiority in opposition to what he called the Negro "revolt" in the 50s and 60s.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Great copy. Awesome delivery time. Just as described!
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