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Popular narratives of American history conceal as much as they reveal. They present a national identity based on harvesting the treasures that lay in wait for European colonization. In Whose Ruins tells another story: winding through the US landscape, from Native American earthworks in West Virginia to the Manhattan Project in New Mexico, this history is a tour of sites that were mined for an empire’s power. Showing the hidden costs of ruthless economic growth, particularly to Indigenous people and ways of understanding, this book illuminates the myth-making intimately tied to place. From the ground up, the project of settlement, expansion, and extraction became entwined with the spiritual values of those who hoped to gain from it. Every nation tells some stories and suppresses others, and In Whose Ruins illustrates the way American myths have been inscribed on the earth itself, overwriting Indigenous histories and binding us into an unsustainable future.
This deeply researched work of narrative history traces the roots of American fantasies and fears in a national tradition of selective forgetting. Connecting the power of myths with the extraction of power from the land itself reveals the truths that have been left out and is an invaluable torch in the search for a way forward.