Richard Kreitner is a contributing writer to The Nation. He is the author of Booked: A Traveler's Guide to Literary Locations Around the World.
The United States have seldom been wholeheartedly united, as Richard Kreitner shows in this often surprising history of disunity, from Northern secession plans before the Civil War to plots for California's independence and a Singapore-style free New York City. The book is engaging and historically rich, and adds up to a new story of the country, one that opens questions about whether we belong together at all. --Jedediah Purdy, Columbia University and author of This Land is Our Land: The Struggle for a New Commonwealth If you thought disunion was an invention of the slave South and is long dead and buried, think again. In Break It Up, Richard Kreitner offers a powerful revisionist account of the troubled history of the American nation, showing how secessionist movements have made their appearance at numerous times, and in numerous parts of the country. They are again proliferating today - a reflection of our polarized politics and culture and our failure to make the existing Union benefit all Americans. --Eric Foner, Columbia University, author of The Fiery Trial If you think the United States only recently became fractious, fractured, and fragmented, Break It Up will shake you up. Richard Kreitner tells us a fresh, unsettling, and persistently entertaining story of disunity and secession as the great American way. From the colonial period through the Revolutionary War, familiar landmarks of founding history are seen a new light. The secessionism of the Confederacy takes on unexpected qualities, as do 20th century black separatism, the 1960's counterculture, and feminism, among other things. This book will change what you thought you knew. --William Hogeland, author of Autumn of the Black Snake As politicians and pundits lament polarization and partisanship, this fiery and fresh exploration of the idea of disunion across four centuries helps us understand how today's fractured landscape is not a new development, but a return, as Kreitner writes, to the 'ever-present battle over the past and for the future'-and for the soul of America. --Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editorial Director and Publisher of The Nation