“The Story of America” comprises 20 essays, each of which concerns a text, such as John Smith’s bogus history of the founding of Jamestown, Va.; Ben Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanack’’; Daniel Webster’s “Nue Merrykin Dikshunary,” as one mocking editorial dubbed it. Lepore, who teaches history at Harvard and writes for The New Yorker, brings to the task a keen eye for the often-competing claims of history, politics, and literature.
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