A searing and "magisterial" (Cornel West) history of American racial exploitation and resistance, told through the turbulent past of the city of St. Louis. From Lewis and Clark's 1804 expedition to the 2014 uprising in Ferguson, American history has been made in St. Louis. And as Walter Johnson shows in The Broken Heart of America, the city exemplifies how imperialism, racism, and capitalism have persistently entwined to corrupt the nation's past. St. Louis was a staging post for Indian removal and imperial expansion, and its wealth grew on the backs of its poor Black residents, from slavery through redlining and urban renewal. But it was once also America's most radical city, home to anti-capitalist immigrants, the Civil War's first general emancipation, and the nation's first general strike—a legacy of resistance that endures. A blistering history of a city's rise and decline, The Broken Heart of America will forever change how we think about the United States.
Walter Johnson is Winthrop Professor of History and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. A Missouri native and author of the critically acclaimed Soul by Soul, which won numerous prestigious awards,and River of Dark Dreams, he lives in Arlington, MA.