Nancy IsenbergNancy Isenberg is the T. Harry Williams Professor of American History at Louisiana State University and author of White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America (Viking, 2016). Her other books include Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum American (University of North Carolina Press, 1998) and Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr (Viking, 2007), the latter of which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in biography. She is co-author, with her partner Andrew Burstein, of Madison and Jefferson (Random House, 2010) and has been featured on NPR on several occasions. Isenberg regularly contributes to with history-accented pieces about modern political and cultural affairs. She has also published in The Nation, The Washington Post, and the Journal of American History, and has given lectures at Monticello, Montpelier, the American Philosophical Society, the Grolier Club, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center.


Praise for White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America

“An eloquent synthesis of the country’s history of class stratification, one that questions whether the United States is indeed a place where all are created equal. White Trash powerfully unites four centuries of history—economic, political, cultural, and pseudo-scientific—to show how thoroughly the notion of class is woven into the national fabric.”The Boston Globe

“White Trash will change the way we think about our past and present.” —T. J. Stiles, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Custer’s Trials

“A bracing reminder of the persistent contempt for the white underclass.” –The Atlantic

“An eloquent volume that is more discomforting and more necessary than a semitrailer filled with new biographies of the founding fathers and the most beloved presidents . . . This estimable book rides into the summer doldrums like rural electrification.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times


Praise for Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr

“Does Burr belong in the pantheon of founding fathers? Or is he, as historians have asserted ever since he fatally shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel, a faux founder who happened to be in the right place at the right time? Was he really the enigmatic villain, the political schemer who lacked any moral core, the sexual pervert, the cherubic-faced slanderer so beloved of popular imagination? This striking new biography by Isenberg argues that Burr was, indeed, the real thing, a founder “at the center of nation building” and a “capable leader in New York political circles.” Interestingly, if controversially, Isenberg believes Burr was “the only founder to embrace feminism,” the only one who “adhered to the ideal that reason should transcend party differences.” Far from being an empty vessel, she says, Burr defended freedom of speech, wanted to expand suffrage and was a proponent of equal rights. Burr was not without his faults, she concludes, but then, none of the other founders was entirely angelic, either, and his actions must be viewed in the context of his political times. As this important book reminds us, America’s founders behaved like ordinary human beings even when they were performing their extraordinary deeds.” –Publisher’s Weekly

“Isenberg’s meticulous biography reveals a gifted lawyer, politician and orator who championed civility in government and even feminist ideals, in a political climate that bears a marked resemblance to our own.” –The Washington Post

“In this positive portrayal of the controversial Aaron Burr (1756-1836), Isenberg departs from all previous biographers, deploring their lack of basic research. Although she acknowledges that studying Burr is hampered by the loss of his papers in a shipwreck, Isenberg more than compensates by tapping negative publicity disseminated by Burr’s political enemies. Comparing their scurrilous reports with private descriptions of Burr as cultured, well liked, and progressive for the times, the author argues that Burr’s reputation was marred not by genuine defects of character but by political competition. And she details the three episodes on which opinion of Burr rises and falls: his tie with Jefferson for the presidency in the 1800 election, his 1804 duel with Hamilton, and his 1807 treason trial. Making a strong case for revising received wisdom about Burr, Isenberg significantly contributes to the history of the early republic.” – Booklist

Praise for Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America

“At a time when it is fashionable among scholars and students to emphasize the limitations and failures of the antebellum women’s rights movement, Nancy Isenberg’s brilliant study represents a much-needed corrective. Her book illuminates the ideas of well-known stalwarts of the struggle for gender equality, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and brings to life lesser-known figures such as Clarina Howard Nichols. . . . Whether as an introductory survey for nonspecialists or a handy reference work for scholars, this book deserves a wide readership.”Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography

“Provides the closest reading yet of the arguments of antebellum woman’s rights activists and, as such, sheds entirely new light on this important chapter in women’s political history in the United States.” – Journal of Interdisciplinary History

“[An] impressive study of antebellum feminist activism in the United States. . . . Sex and Citizenship admirably executes its stated mission to recapture the variety and theoretical sophistication of U.S. feminism at its origins.” – American Literature


To read an interview with Nancy Isenberg speaking on her latest book, White Trash,


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