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The History of the Future

Essays by Edward McPherson

A collection of long essays centered on American places where the past is erupting into the present in unexpected ways.

May 2, 2017
6 x 9 | 288 Pages
Trade Paper

Thanks to a 2013 ADA Access Improvement Grant administered by VSA Minnesota for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, this title is also formatted for screen readers which make text accessible to the blind and visually impaired.

To purchase this title for use with a screen reader please call (612) 338-0125 or email us at

All orders will ship in May.

ISBN: 978-1-56689-467-8.


Available on backorder


What does it mean to think about Dallas in relationship to Dallas? In The History of the Future, McPherson reexamines American places and the space between history, experience, and myth. Private streets, racism, and the St. Louis World’s Fair; fracking for oil and digging for dinosaurs in North Dakota boomtowns—Americana slides into apocalypse in these essays, revealing us to ourselves.

Edward McPherson is the author of two previous books: Buster Keaton: Tempest in a Flat Hat (Faber & Faber) and The Backwash Squeeze and Other Improbable Feats (HarperCollins). He has written for the New York Times Magazine, the Paris Review, Tin House, and the American Scholar, among others. He has received a Pushcart Prize, the Gulf Coast Prize in Fiction, a Minnesota State Arts Board grant, and the Gesell Award from the University of Minnesota, where he received his MFA. He teaches creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis.


“This collection brims with subdued, self-aware brilliance.” —Publishers Weekly

“A lively, enlightening, and occasionally disturbing book that envisions the future as already broken.”—Kirkus Reviews

“In The History of the Future, McPherson explores America in all its beauty and strangeness. He is funny and searching—a joy to read.”—Elizabeth Kolbert

“Edward McPherson’s meditations on the United States—from its soaring, vulnerable architecture to its deep underground tunnels—are bracing in their acknowledgment of what’s been lost to time and his anxieties about what’s ahead. This is a smart and beautifully written book about America.”—Rebecca Traister

The History of the Future is a book of astonishments: in these essays we are taken on a series of journeys around America to half-secret places where the soul of the country is hidden away. Edward McPherson is a wonderful tour guide: intelligent, funny, and urbane, he never seems disconcerted by the everyday wonders he shows us. If you thought you knew America, read this book; you will find yourself surprised, dismayed, and delighted by the truths he has found and the stories he tells.”—Charles Baxter