Time Bandits: Why Our Political Past Is Rarely Prologue

But what I want my readers to grasp most deeply is that all of American history is more surreal, more dangerous, more disorienting, and more terrifyingly conflictual than we typically want to believe. Focus on all the parts in my books where I dwell on the pundits, political leaders, and other gatekeepers of polite opinion and their willful insistence that America is fundamentally a society of consensus. Recall that they’re never more insistent on the point than when signs of chaos are all around them: Walter Lippmann was pronouncing his ‘united and at peace with itself’ celebration not long after Bull Connor’s fire hoses and police dogs ushered in the most violent phase yet of the civil rights revolution.
— Rick Perlstein