The US Across the Centuries

Shepherd Express reviews new books on the meaning of America, including Joanna Brooks' WHY WE LEFT.

brooks_why coverThe assumption that America’s original Anglo-Saxon settlers came seeking opportunity is wrong. In her path-finding cultural history, Joanna Brooks discovers that some working-class settlers were sentenced to exile for vagrancy, some were kidnapped as cheap labor and others arrived as indentured servants with few prospects. Most had been driven from their ancestral homes by the cruel birth pains of modernity as old obligations between social classes were supplanted by naked greed. Brooks searches the often grim, fatalistic ballads carried across the Atlantic for clues into the lives of often-illiterate people who left few traces behind. The new land eventually provided many of their descendants with opportunities they never imagined.

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Published in: Shepherd Express
By: David Luhrssen