History teacher Kevin Lee is retiring from Seneca Falls High School, where he has worked for the past forty years. He decides to use the freedom of his pending exit to toss the state curriculum and teach the U.S. survey as the story of the alluring, inspiring, murderous concept we know as the American Dream—which, he understands, his students regard with justified, if instinctive, skepticism. Lee discusses the rise, fall, and legacy of the Dream with these smart, funny, and irreverent eleventh graders, in a narrative peppered with memos, email exchanges, text messages, student journalism, and other documents from beyond the walls of his classroom. The result is the best history class you never had.
A chronological history of the United States, this compelling novel also offers a snapshot of American education, written by a veteran teacher who slices through the arid literature of pedagogy to vividly depict the life of the classroom. Finally, it offers a deeply affectionate and patriotic vision of American life—one fully aware of the nation’s limits and failures while honoring the longings so many of us have to believe in our country, even as we harbor deepening doubts about our nation.