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Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality (Paperback)
Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality Cover Image
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“A tour de force.... No one has ever written a book on the Declaration quite like this one.” —Gordon Wood, New York Review of Books


Winner of the Zócalo Book Prize

Winner of the Society of American Historians’ Francis Parkman Prize

Winner of the Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize (Nonfiction)

Finalist for the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation Hurston Wright Legacy Award

Shortlisted for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction

Shortlisted for the Phi Beta Kappa Society’s Ralph Waldo Emerson Award

A New York Times Book Review Editors Choice Selection


Featured on the front page of the New York Times, Our Declaration is already regarded as a seminal work that reinterprets the promise of American democracy through our founding text. Combining a personal account of teaching the Declaration with a vivid evocation of the colonial world between 1774 and 1777, Allen, a political philosopher renowned for her work on justice and citizenship reveals our nation’s founding text to be an animating force that not only changed the world more than two-hundred years ago, but also still can. Challenging conventional wisdom, she boldly makes the case that the Declaration is a document as much about political equality as about individual liberty. Beautifully illustrated throughout, Our Declaration is an “uncommonly elegant, incisive, and often poetic primer on America’s cardinal text” (David M. Kennedy).

About the Author


Danielle Allen is the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University and author of Cuz and Our Declaration, winner of the Parkman Prize. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Praise For…


The book is a tour de force of close textual analysis.
— Gordon S. Wood

Our Declaration is an artful, often elegiac meditation on the meaning of Jefferson's famous words for our time. Allen brings the analytical skills of a philosopher, the voice of a gifted memorialist, and the spirit of a soulful humanist to the task at hand, and manages to do something quite rare, find new meaning in Jefferson’s understanding of equality.
— Joseph J. Ellis, author of Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence

Our Declaration sets forth a bold thesis… Allen’s passion for each of the Declaration’s 1,337 words is admirable.

— Steven B. Smith

This wise and rich book is what we need in these troubled times—a robust and persuasive defense of equality and liberty grounded in our national scripture. Danielle Allen is a towering political philosopher of the democratic art of being and a force for good!
— Cornel West, author of Democracy Matters: Winning the War on Imperialism

Danielle Allen celebrates the Declaration of Independence by reading it closely—line by line, comma by comma—and invites her fellow citizens to do the same. The result is a richly rewarding book that demonstrates the pleasures of slow reading, the power of words to shape events, and the importance of equality to democratic life.
— Michael Sandel, author of What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets

Danielle Allen's poignant and personal reflection on the Declaration of Independence is a rare and singular work…[S]he has written a book that throws open a door to a large circle of readers: anyone with a stake in democracy. Her observations about the importance of language in building and sustaining a republic are especially resonant and worthy of the towering rhetoric of the Declaration. Our Declaration holds the promise of both discovery and rediscovery whether you've never read the Declaration or have memorized each of its 1,337 words.
— Ann Marie Lipinski, curator, Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Harvard University

Our Declaration is a primer on all that we have been missing… Not just an invaluable civics lesson but also a poignant personal memoir… Allen is an evangelist for this romantic moment in American history when men of uncommon vision and political deftness stated their case and listed their grievances against the most powerful nation on Earth.

— Thane Rosenbaum

An astounding new book that should reinvigorate public understanding of the founding document of the United States… Reading Ms. Allen makes reading the Declaration meaningful and enjoyable—a powerful enough lesson it is't own right.
— Sarah J. Purcell

At once simple, sharp and deftly executed.


Product Details
ISBN: 9781631490446
ISBN-10: 1631490443
Publisher: Liveright
Publication Date: May 4th, 2015
Pages: 320
Language: English