Livestream Reading: Richard Kreitner: Break It Up

Annie Bloom's welcomes Richard Kreitner for a livestream reading from his book Break It Up: Secession, Division, and the Secret History of America's Imperfect Union. Richard Kreitner will be joined in conversation by the writer Daniel Duane.

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From journalist and historian Richard Kreitner, a "powerful revisionist account" of the most persistent idea in American history: these supposedly United States should be broken up (Eric Foner).

The novel and fiery thesis of Break It Up is simple: The United States has never lived up to its name—and never will. The disunionist impulse may have found its greatest expression in the Civil War, but as Break It Up shows, the seduction of secession wasn’t limited to the South or the nineteenth century. It was there at our founding and has never gone away.
With a scholar's command and a journalist's curiosity, Richard Kreitner takes readers on a revolutionary journey through American history, revealing the power and persistence of disunion movements in every era and region. Each New England town after Plymouth was a secession from another; the thirteen colonies viewed their Union as a means to the end of securing independence, not an end in itself; George Washington feared separatism west of the Alleghenies; Aaron Burr schemed to set up a new empire; John Quincy Adams brought a Massachusetts town’s petition for dissolving the United States to the floor of Congress; and abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison denounced the Constitution as a pro-slavery pact with the devil.
From the "cold civil war" that pits partisans against one another to the modern secession movements in California and Texas, the divisions that threaten to tear America apart today have centuries-old roots in the earliest days of our Republic. Richly researched and persuasively argued, Break It Up will help readers make fresh sense of our fractured age.

Daniel Duane is a regular contributor to the New York Times Magazine and the author of several books, including the memoir Caught Inside: A Surfer's Year on the California Coast.


Event date: 
Tuesday, October 6, 2020 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm
Break It Up: Secession, Division, and the Secret History of America's Imperfect Union Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316510608
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown and Company - August 18th, 2020

Caught Inside: A Surfer's Year on the California Coast Cover Image
ISBN: 9780865475090
Availability: Special Order - Usually 1-5 Days
Published: North Point Press - April 10th, 1997