The End Of The Myth Book Summary By Greg Grandin

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The End of the Myth, written in 2019 by author Greg Grandin, is a revealing look at how America’s frontier mentality has shaped and preserved the nation through its often tumultuous history.

Readers will be able to explore how this expansion of American territory has caused deep issues of racism and inequality to stay buried under the surface, as well as discover if the myth of the American frontier has finally breathed its last breath.

The book provides a thought-provoking journey that dives deeper into this fascinating aspect of American history and society.

The End Of The Myth Book

Book Name: The End of the Myth (From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America)

Author(s): Greg Grandin

Rating: 3.5/5

Reading Time: 31 Minutes

Categories: History

Author Bio

The End of the Myth by Greg Grandin is a must-read for history buffs.

Grandin is a renowned historian who has both served on the United Nations Truth Commission and taught at universities like New York University and Yale.

He has also been honored with fellowships such as those from the Guggenheim Foundation and New York Public Library.

His highly praised works include The Empire of Necessity and Fordlandia, which was a finalist for awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award.

The End Of The Myth Of The Ever-Expanding Frontier And How It Led To Trumpism


The myth of the American frontier has been a powerful force in the nation’s history, influencing both foreign and domestic policies.

In “The End of the Myth” by Greg Grandin, readers are provided with an insight into how this iconic image of the cowboy riding off into the sunset has guided America’s development over time.

From Andrew Jackson onward, Americans were taught to believe that there were always new frontiers with unlimited resources and promise waiting ahead.

This idea necessitated a push outward in search of riches as well as attempts to limit access to resources already within US borders.

Grandin explains that this ideology remained strong until it was brought crashing down by events such as Vietnam and the War on Terror.

By discussing these examples from US History in “The End of The Myth”, Grandin highlights how this nationwide idea of limitless potential heavily dictated what Americans viewed as acceptable foreign and domestic policies for years, and provides an important look into how past thinking still affects our lives today.

Tracing The Roots Of Trumpism: How Expansion And Diversity Were Linked In America’S Early Years

Prosperity has always been closely intertwined with the concept of frontier expansion in America.

It dates back to the Founding Fathers, who wanted to utilize the vast emptiness of our nation for the good of everyone.

They saw that with greater space, more opportunities would be created and there wouldn’t be a limited number of them – as is often supposed.

James Madison was among those who believed this, and argued that by having communities form along similar values or religious lines and maintaining diversity throughout the country, it could ultimately lead to stability and prosperity.

He saw expansion as an ideal way to do so without sparking conflict or hostility between human populations.

This idea of a “frontier” has since been studied amongst historians and politicians alike, with many trying to understand how an increase in space can benefit a nation’s citizens.

And when looking at America’s history, it does become clear that the nation’s wealth has indeed been linked to expanding its physical boundaries for centuries – allowing for opportunity for growth not just for its citizens but also its culture as well.

Andrew Jackson was a well-known frontiersman and former president of the United States, and he had a very clear idea of what the American way was meant to be.

According to his philosophy, government should interfere in the matters of individual freedom as little as possible.

This is why he sought to limit government bureaucracy and safeguard the rights of individuals to buy, sell, and move freely.

To accommodate these views, he worked diligently to uphold what are now known as “Jacksonian principles”.

This entailed making small government and individual rights a priority when crafting policy decisions that would affect Americans nationwide.

Even when navigating through Indian territory, Jackson opted to draw his pistols rather than show any form of identification required by the government – this speaks volumes about how committed he was to keeping government interference at bay in order for citizens to remain free in their personal lives.

His widespread popularity only increased over time because many people wanted autonomy from outside regulators, particularly those attempting to regulate slavery.

With every bit of land gained or sold during his term, Jackson always kept in mind what was best for the individuals within that space.

As such, while Native American peoples were being removed from their land in unprecedented numbers due some this expansion process ,Jacksonians ensured that all affected citizens had access to their rights under these principles.

War Serves As A Safety Valve For Americans To Release Tensions And Unite Behind Existential Frontiers


In the early 1800s when steam-powered boats were still being perfected, the development of the safety valve was a revolutionary advancement that promised to turn these death traps into reliable transportation.

This concept soon caught on with journalists and writers as a metaphor for policies designed to mitigate tensions among different cultural or socioeconomic groups in the United States.

One such policy was the country’s expansion efforts.

As per Madison’s vision, this “extended sphere” became both geographic and ideological in nature, allowing America to grow beyond its physical borders while promoting values like liberty and camaraderie.

Expansion also allowed US citizens to set aside their differences and unite under the same cause, something which became even more important after the Civil War.

The US military thus proved itself invaluable in both keeping up expansion efforts and uniting a divided nation.

Not only did it take part in gaining land including California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah etc – all during the Mexican-American War of 1846 – but it even provided an opportunity for southerners to fight for southern values on their own terms across the Caribbean or Pacific Ocean sans slavery and free traders/tariff supporters.

Consequently, war not only became an avenue for expanding America’s footprints but also a “safety valve” that invariably transformed enemies into allies and servants of nationhood during times of strife.

The Role Of The Frontier Thesis In Reinforcing America’S Myth Of Unending Expansion

The Frontier Thesis, developed by Frederick Jackson Turner in the closing years of the nineteenth century, sparked a mythology surrounding the American frontier.

It described how America’s settlers moved west and established communities that were then incorporated into the larger government as equal partners.

But this wasn’t always true; in most cases, the government was first to move, laying claim to land for industries and railroads, removing indigenous populations, and more besides.

This shows us that Turner’s idea of an endlessly expansible American frontier perpetrating ideals of fairness and cooperation is flawed from its inception.

Instead of settlements guided by nature alone, much of America’s expansion depended on industrial-scale overhauling controlled largely by central authorities.

And while words such as freedom and liberty were commonly used in relation to Turner’s thesis, it has become obvious in recent decades that these values did not always apply if they ran counter to corporate interests.

Ultimately, Turner sought to perpetuate a myth about an idealistic America–one which presented itself as ever advancing but at the same time didn’t challenge existing power structures.

This conflict between reality and mythology should be understood today when contemplating how real-life frontierships can unfold in times to come.

America’S Uneasy History With Social Democracy Changes During The Great Depression

Since the end of the Civil War that saw the Reconstruction effort and the Freedmen’s Bureau, America has had an uneasy relationship with social democracy.

Despite efforts to protect freed slaves and aid in the rebuilding of the South, conservative southerners balked at the idea of treating African Americans as equal citizens, leading to the closure of Freedmen’s Bureau in 1872.

Other attempts to distribute land fairly through Homestead Acts also failed at achieving this goal, with critics citing it as an example of governmental overreach.

But when prosperity ceased during the Great Depression due to economic battles rooted within their own nation, Americans were forced to turn inward and look at ways they could reform their society and promote social democracy.

Roosevelt’s New Deal brought innovative educational reforms meant to place people into work, while expanding national parks, tree planting projects and encouraging crop sowings across his administration.

This was seen as America’s most formidable drive for social uplift since its history with Freedman’s Bureau.

Social individualism emerged as a way to switch focus from taming physical wilderness to curing “social wilderness” reflected by such pushback against progressive programs in the past – otherwise known as America’s Uneasy History With Social Democracy Before The Great Depression.

The New Frontier: From Social Democracy To All-Or-Nothing Demagoguery To Reaffirming American Individualism

American Individualism

At the time of Roosevelt’s death and the end of World War Two, America had become stronger than ever due to his social programs.

However, there were still plenty of opposition towards these big-government policies.

The focus then shifted toward economic success, with the G.I.

Bill providing veterans stability and a foothold in the economy that could last for generations.

But things took a different turn when soldiers from the US went to fight in Vietnam, as it became clear this campaign was both unsound and a disaster, stoking up civil unrest at home.

There were assassinations and riots, as well as protests by African-American activists which were countered with dogs, batons and fire hoses.

This is what Daniel Bell referred to as “all-or-nothing demagoguery” – an ideological tug between those who wanted a more socially democratic government akin to Europe versus those who oppose it – echoed throughout President Richard Nixon’s tenure during which tensions worsed before they improved again.

It was Ronald Reagan who finally turned the tide by capturing both supporters of small-government libertarianism and white supremacists through his stand on issues like race, sex, crime or drugs while protecting “family values” against regulation or gun control laws etc..

His position on freedom reinforced american individualism: moving toward maximum individual freedom from within where perhaps collective solutions previously found elusive.

The Rise And Fall Of Us Border Vigilante Efforts: From The Kkk To Reagan’S Immigration Reform

The history of the Mexican-American border is one steeped in violence and horror.

In 1846, during the Mexican-American War, villages were destroyed and war crimes were committed by American soldiers without discrimination for their victims, men, women and children included.

It wasn’t until after World War One that any significant security measures began to be put into place along the border.

Yet despite this increased security, it did little to impede would-be migrants from illegally crossing.

As a result, a new brand of vigilantism emerged in the 1920s among members of the Klu Klux Klan residing in south Texas.

The faction known as the Frontier Klan Number 100 terrorized Mexicans attempting to cross the bridge between Juarez and El Paso on a regular basis through beatings, shootings, and hanging innocent people just trying to make it across the border.

Despite vigilantism efforts such as these, millions of undocumented migrants still managed to make their way into America where businesses welcomed them as workers for cheap labor.

Even Republican president Ronald Reagan was able to pass groundbreaking legislation granting them legal residence and citizenship with his Immigration Reform and Control Act.

Reagan, Clinton, Bush, Obama: A Century Of Failed Efforts To Address Immigration Fears

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the war on terror launched by President George W.

Bush were both meant to improve relations between Mexico and the United States, but ultimately failed to address people’s fears of a diminished frontier.

Despite the intention of NAFTA to provide Mexicans with jobs south of the border, it only displaced nearly 5 million rural Mexican families and farmers.

To prevent undocumented immigrants crossing the border, President Clinton enforced a strong Border Patrol presence, yet between 1994 and 2000 there was still a 79 percent increase in Mexicans entering the United States each year.

Meanwhile, during Bush’s reign, white supremacist vigilantes began “hunting down Mexicans” in Yuma County, Arizona–and not much was done to stop it.

Even Obama’s years saw little improvement when protestors marched the streets of Murrieta, California in 2014 while shouting racial insults at buses full of Central American children looking for shelter.

These events demonstrate that although efforts were made to ease tension between Mexico and America during this time period, they ultimately did not succeed.

The Fall Of The American Frontier Myth: How Trump’s Closed Borders Are Stranding Us At Home


The debacle of the war in Iraq has marked a dark period in American history, ending the long-time belief that expansion was necessary for prosperity and could be used to push away potential civil conflict.

The War on Terror proved to be horribly misguided, as it revealed the deep-rooted racism and violence the United States had faced for years.

With such atrocities exposed, it became clear that there is no escaping our baser impulses without facing them head on.

Gone is the idea that expanding through wars and ideological movements could be beneficial or even effective as a safety valve for internal issues, with Trump’s America refusing to address social problems through any kind of improved legislation.

The Trump administration has also gone so far as to de-naturalize citizenships in an attempt to rid itself of unwanted immigrants, placing an end to any possibility of expansion into new lands or cultures.

Ultimately, despite the misguided attempts at overseas expansion initiated by former President George W.

Bush and continuously supported by Donald Trump today, this period has come to represent the death of the myth of ever-expanding America frontier – one which will never breathe life again.

Wrap Up

The End of the Myth is a book that seeks to explore how America’s conception of the Western Frontier has changed over centuries.

At the nation’s founding, America saw the possibilities of Westward expansion as an opportunity for greater prosperity.

This idea evolved further into a pursuit of ideological expansionism, taking Western values around the world.

However, eventually disasters like the Vietnam War and the Bush administration’s War on Terror put an end to this myth for good.

The key takeaway from these events is that despite our best efforts, there can never be a limit-less frontier to conquer in perpetual abundance.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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