Gordon S. Wood wrote a scathing review of Jill Lepore’s The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle Over American History, a book which I heard about last year but have yet to read (I have it on my Kindle and will read, when I can!). Gordon S. Wood starts his analysis by making the observations:
It is very easy for academic historians to mock this special need, and Harvard historian Jill Lepore, as a staff writer for The New Yorker, is an expert at mocking. Her new book, which mingles discussions of the present-day Tea Party movement with scattershot accounts of the Revolution, makes fun of the Tea Party people who are trying to use the history of the Revolution to promote their political cause. From her point of view, “What would the founders do?” is an “ill-considered” and “pointless” question.
As Wood notes, for Lepore the ideas behind these movements are a kind of historical “fundamentalism” that wishes to look back and to somehow teleport or transport today to yesterday, or in this sense to the great past. To conjure up the past in this way means, for Lepore, that it is the ultimate in the simplification and dumbing down of history so as to accept that women could not vote and blacks were slaves (as was the case in 1776). That to look back and ask what the Founder’s would do is an obtuse act. Therefore as Wood observes, throughout her book Lepore’s implicitly asks “Don’t these Tea Party people realize how silly they are?”
So, perhaps, for Academic snobs such as Lepore the only good movement is a Liberal movement? Anyway, a very interesting review of what looks like an interesting, though probably flawed, book that I can’t wait to read.