Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974 (Paperback)

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"A gripping and troubling account of the origins of our turbulent times.” —Jill Lepore, author of These Truths: A History of the United States


When—and how—did America become so polarized? In this masterful history, leading historians Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer uncover the origins of our current moment. It all starts in 1974 with the Watergate crisis, the OPEC oil embargo, desegregation busing riots in Boston, and the wind-down of the Vietnam War. What follows is the story of our own lifetimes. It is the story of ever-widening historical fault lines over economic inequality, race, gender, and sexual norms firing up a polarized political landscape. It is also the story of profound transformations of the media and our political system fueling the fire. Kruse and Zelizer’s Fault Lines is a master class in national divisions nearly five decades in the making.



About the Author


Kevin M. Kruse is an award-winning scholar on twentieth-century American political history. Fault Lines grew out of the hugely popular course that he and Julian Zelizer co-created at Princeton University, The United States Since 1974.

Julian E. Zelizer is an award-winning scholar on twentieth-century American political history. Fault Lines grew out of the hugely popular course that he and Kevin Kruse co-created at Princeton University, The United States Since 1974.

Praise For…


Comprehensive, fair-minded—half an American lifetime between two covers and in one fast-paced telling!
— David Frum, author of Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic

Fault Lines is an excellent history of U.S. political dysfunction… [with] deep detail and taut-as-a-thriller pacing.

— Michaelangelo Matos

Refreshingly frank.
— Eric Wakin

In their new book, Fault Lines, [Kevin M.] Kruse and [Julian E.] Zelizer do an admirable job of creating a narrative out of the chaotic events of the recent past according to the themes of crisis, consolidation, and polarization. Using the post-Vietnam crisis of legitimacy as their jumping-off point, the authors trace the country’s current divisive state through various periods of cultural fragmentation.… Kruse and Zelizer have composed the standard work for those teaching courses on the recent American past and the forces of polarization that have produced our contemporary divided public.

— L. Benjamin Rolsky

Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer’s Fault Lines is a brilliant primer for understanding the troubling precedents for today’s mass American political dysfunction. Both historians are deeply informed and surefooted thinkers. A must-read foundational work for our time!

— Douglas Brinkley, history commentator for CNN and author of Cronkite

Fault Lines is a stunning work of the history of our present. An antidote to fake news and historical propaganda. In the age of Trump, Kruse and Zelizer’s book sets the record straight. Every major cultural and political division over the past four decades comes to life in these pages, and in the telling we are confronted with the country we have been and the country we might become.

— Khalil Gibran Muhammad, professor of history, race, and public policy at Harvard Kennedy School and author of The Condemnation of Blackness

Fault Lines is a must-read. Kruse and Zelizer have taken the fragmented histories of a polarized, divided nation and masterfully woven those threads into a tapestry that allows us to see not only what divides but what unites, and that the choice is ours.

— Carol Anderson, Charles Howard Candler professor of African American Studies at Emory University and author of White Rage and One Person, No Vote

A forcefully argued analysis of the rifts that divide us and a lively, wide-ranging chronicle of the nation’s odyssey from Nixon to Trump.
— Bruce J. Schulman, William E. Huntington Professor of History at Boston University and author of The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Society, and Politics

For Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer, Donald Trump is not some singular figure. He is ‘the result of trends decades in the making.’ Sober, clearly written, and profoundly insightful. This is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the forces of the last half century that have brought the country to the brink of disaster.
— Eddie S. Glaude Jr., James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor at Princeton University and author of Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul

With commanding knowledge and an eye for the telling detail, Kruse and Zelizer address the pressing historical question of how we arrived in today’s polarized America. The answer, they show, is not simple, but they explain its various dimensions in a cogent and fair-minded fashion. A splendid book.
— Fredrik Logevall, professor of history and international affairs at Harvard University and author of Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam
Product Details
ISBN: 9780393357707
ISBN-10: 0393357708
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: January 28th, 2020
Pages: 464
Language: English