The history America never wanted you to read.
‘The narrative took my breath away’ Philippe Sands
‘An extraordinarily and shockingly powerful read’ Peter Frankopan
‘One of the must-reads of the year’ Suzannah Lipscomb
‘Brilliant and provocative’ Gavin Esler
Sarah Churchwell examines one of the most enduringly popular stories of all time, Gone with the Wind, to help explain the divisions ripping the United States apart today. Separating fact from fiction, she shows how histories of mythmaking have informed America’s racial and gender politics, the controversies over Confederate statues, the resurgence of white nationalism, the Black Lives Matter movement, the enduring power of the American Dream, and the violence of Trumpism.
Gone with the Wind was an instant bestseller when it was published in 1936; its film version became the most successful Hollywood film of all time. Today the story’s racism is again a subject of controversy, but it was just as controversial in the 1930s, foreshadowing today’s debates over race and American fascism. In The Wrath to Come, Sarah Churchwell charts an extraordinary journey through 160 years of American denialism. From the Lost Cause to the romances behind the Ku Klux Klan, from the invention of the ‘ideal’ slave plantation to the erasure of interwar fascism, Churchwell shows what happens when we do violence to history, as collective denial turns fictions into lies, and lies into a vicious reality.