In the six years since 9/11, as the bush regime has squandered domestic solidarity and international goodwill, many of the archetypes and ideals with which we’ve traditionally framed the American enterprise now seem endangered, even hollow. This raises the question, has America ever been what it thinks it is? What Is America? goes to the heart of that inquiry. Ranging with dazzling expertise through anthropology, history, and literature, Wright reconfigures our self-perception, arguing that the “essence” of America can be traced to the foundations of our history-literally to the collision of worlds that began in 1492, as one civilization subsumed another-and exploring how these currents continue to shape our world.