"Kreitner effectively cleans the window that stands between us and our history--or what we believed about our history...richly researched, revelatory, disturbing, and essential to those wandering in the mists of American myth."
"An eye-opening chronicle of separatist movements within the
U.S.... makes a strong case that the impulse to dissolve the union will always
"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
"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 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
"Generations of Americans have been taught that our political system is an ideal balance that works wonderfully well. Today it's becoming increasingly difficult to believe that. In this climate, Break It Up is perfectly timed. It tells us where our national experiment went wrong - and proposes a boldly appealing alternative."—Stephen Kinzer, Boston Globe columnist and author of Poisoner in Chief
"Richard Kreitner's Break It Up is an intelligent, fascinating and important look at the long history of secessionist movements in the United States. From before the Revolution and the Civil War to the rise of Trump, these such deunionist efforts have sought to break up the United States in different ways and parts. While breaking up the nation makes little sense, these lessons of these movements carry with them a kernel of wisdom. Ours is a federalist system and Americans vote not just with the ballot but with our feet. We may be better able to salve our differences and coexist as a nation of different political persuasions by shifting power from our increasingly dysfunctional federal government to states and localities."—Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class
"Break It Up is at once extremely well written, deeply incisive about the prevalence of disunionist thought and movements throughout American history, and a passionate call for us today to reflect and reconsider some of our basic political commitments. Everyone interested in the past, present, and future of the United States would profit from closely reading and then discussing Richard Kreitner's truly provocative and challenging book."—Sanford Levinson, co-author of Fault Lines in the Constitution