Chris Voss Podcast – As a City on a Hill: The Story of America’s Most Famous Lay Sermon by Daniel T. Rodgers

The Chris Voss Show Podcast – As a City on a Hill: The Story of America’s Most Famous Lay Sermon by Daniel T. Rodgers
Daniel Rodgers Webpage

How an obscure Puritan sermon came to be seen as a founding document of American identity and exceptionalism

“For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill,” John Winthrop warned his fellow Puritans at New England’s founding in 1630. More than three centuries later, Ronald Reagan remade that passage into a timeless celebration of American promise. How were Winthrop’s long-forgotten words reinvented as a central statement of American identity and exceptionalism? In As a City on a Hill, leading American intellectual historian Daniel Rodgers tells the surprising story of one of the most celebrated documents in the canon of the American idea. In doing so, he brings to life the ideas Winthrop’s text carried in its own time and the sharply different yearnings that have been attributed to it since.

As a City on a Hill shows how much more malleable, more saturated with vulnerability, and less distinctly American Winthrop’s “Model of Christian Charity” was than the document that twentieth-century Americans invented. Across almost four centuries, Rodgers traces striking shifts in the meaning of Winthrop’s words―from Winthrop’s own anxious reckoning with the scrutiny of the world, through Abraham Lincoln’s haunting reference to this “almost chosen people,” to the “city on a hill” that African Americans hoped to construct in Liberia, to the era of Donald Trump.

As a City on a Hill reveals the circuitous, unexpected ways Winthrop’s words came to lodge in American consciousness. At the same time, the book offers a probing reflection on how nationalism encourages the invention of “timeless” texts to straighten out the crooked realities of the past.

Dan Rodgers is the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University. He is a prize-winning teacher and the author of six prize-winning books on the history of American ideas, arguments, assumptions, and culture. His Age of Fracture, which won the coveted Bancroft Prize in American history in 2012, not only helped put the word fracture on the map as a description of the last forty years of American history but showed how the very idea of “society” began to fall apart after the 1970s. His latest book, As a City on a Hill, available in paperback this fall, hones in on the history of one of the most iconic phrases in recent American politics: the claim that ever since their beginning Americans knew that they were destined to be a model to the world. The book uncovers the myths behind that assumption. It shows how a 17th century document’s words were lost, how they were found again, and how they were filled with radically new meanings. Finally, and most importantly, it asks what the phrase “city on a hill” ought to mean for us now.

Chris Voss Podcast – Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda by Jean Guerrero

Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda by Jean Guerrero

“A vital book for understanding the still-unfolding nightmare of nationalism and racism in the 21st century.” –Francisco Cantu, author of The Line Becomes a River

Stephen Miller is one of the most influential advisors in the White House. He has crafted Donald Trump’s speeches, designed immigration policies that ban Muslims and separate families, and outlasted such Trump stalwarts as Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions. But he’s remained an enigma.

Until now. Emmy- and PEN-winning investigative journalist and author Jean Guerrero charts the thirty-four-year-old’s astonishing rise to power, drawing from more than one hundred interviews with his family, friends, adversaries and government officials.

Radicalized as a teenager, Miller relished provocation at his high school in liberal Santa Monica, California. He clashed with administrators and antagonized dark-skinned classmates with invectives against bilingualism and multiculturalism. At Duke University, he cloaked racist and classist ideas in the language of patriotism and heritage to get them airtime amid controversies. On Capitol Hill, he served Tea Party congresswoman Michele Bachmann and nativist Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions.

Recruited to Trump’s campaign, Miller met his idol. Having dreamed of Trump’s presidency before he even announced his decision to run, Miller became his senior policy advisor and speechwriter. Together, they stoked dystopian fears about the Democrats, “Deep State” and “American Carnage,” painting migrants and their supporters as an existential threat to America. Through backroom machinations and sheer force of will, Miller survived dozens of resignations and encouraged Trump’s harshest impulses, in conflict with the president’s own family. While Trump railed against illegal immigration, Miller crusaded against legal immigration. He targeted refugees, asylum seekers and their children, engineering an ethical crisis for a nation that once saw itself as the conscience of the world. Miller rallied support for this agenda, even as federal judges tried to stop it, by courting the white rage that found violent expression in tragedies from El Paso to Charlottesville.

Hatemonger unveils the man driving some of the most divisive confrontations over what it means to be American––and what America will become.

Jean Guerrero is the PEN-winning author of CRUX and the forthcoming biography of Trump’s senior advisor Stephen Miller, Hatemonger. Her writing is featured in The Best American Essays 2019. She is an Emmy-winning investigative reporter for KPBS, contributing to NPR and the PBS NewsHour. She started her career at the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires as a foreign correspondent in Mexico.