America First poster, c. 1911. Photograph by Harris & Ewing. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
“History rarely starts when we think it did, and it never seems to end when we think it should,” Sarah Churchwell writes in the introduction to her book Behold, America: The Entangled History of “America First” and “the American Dream”. “Nor does it tend to say what we think it will. The phrases ‘American dream’ and ‘America first’ were born almost exactly a century ago—and rapidly tangled over capitalism, democracy, and race, the three fates always spinning America’s destiny.” Churchwell, a professor of American literature and public understanding of the humanities at the University of London, spoke of that tangle’s origin—and where it ended up—with Lewis H. Lapham on the podcast, and explained how Dorothy Thompson and Sinclair Lewis are good guides for how to deal with America’s own brand of fascism both now and then.
Lewis H. Lapham talks with Sarah Churchwell, author of Behold, America: The Entangled History of “America First” and “the American Dream”.
Thanks to our generous donors. Lead support for this podcast has been provided by Elizabeth “Lisette” Prince. Additional support was provided by James J. “Jimmy” Coleman Jr.