We Gather Together: A Nation Divided, a President in Turmoil, and a Historic Campaign to Embrace Gratitude and Grace (Hardcover)

Pre-Order Now Badge
We Gather Together: A Nation Divided, a President in Turmoil, and a Historic Campaign to Embrace Gratitude and Grace Cover Image
Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Castle and The Girls of Atomic City comes a new way to look at American history through the story of giving thanks.

From Ancient Rome through 21st-century America, bestselling author Denise Kiernan brings us a biography of an idea: gratitude, as a compelling human instinct and a global concept, more than just a mere holiday. Spanning centuries, We Gather Together is anchored amid the strife of the Civil War, and driven by the fascinating story of Sarah Josepha Hale, a widowed mother with no formal schooling who became one of the 19th century’s most influential tastemakers and who campaigned for decades to make real an annual day of thanks.

Populated by an enthralling supporting cast of characters including Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Sojourner Truth, Walt Whitman, Norman Rockwell, and others, We Gather Together is ultimately a story of tenacity and dedication, an inspiring tale of how imperfect people in challenging times can create powerful legacies. 
Working at the helm of one of the most widely read magazines in the nation, Hale published Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and others, while introducing American readers to such newfangled concepts as “domestic science,” white wedding gowns, and the Christmas tree. A prolific writer, Hale penned novels, recipe books, essays and more, including the ubiquitous children’s poem, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” And Hale herself never stopped pushing the leaders of her time, in pursuit of her goal. 
The man who finally granted her wish about a national “thanksgiving” was Lincoln, the president of the war-torn nation in which Hale would never have the right to vote. 

Illuminating, wildly discussable, part myth-busting, part call to action, We Gather Together is full of unexpected delights and uneasy truths. The stories of indigenous peoples, immigrant communities, women’s rights activists, abolitionists, and more, will inspire readers to rethink and reclaim what it means to give thanks in this day and age. The book’s message of gratitude—especially when embraced during the hardest of times—makes it one to read and share, over and over, at any time of year.

Praise For…

Praise for We Gather Together:  
We Gather Together reminds us of the importance of gratitude in our own lives, especially during our darkest hours. It uncovers the profound ways in which a seemingly simple holiday has helped shape American history and how it has brought solace during times of upheaval and loss. Kiernan reminds us of the healing power of gratitude."—Kate Andersen Brower, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Residence and Team of Five

“As a researcher, Denise Kiernan is skilled at finding the lost moments of our national conscience; as a writer, she is brilliant at explaining why these moments matter. Only a writer of Kiernan's ability can cut through great swaths of history to locate the germinating seed of a national movement that is still moving us.”Wiley Cash, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Ballad and A Land More Kind Than Home 

We Gather Together is a surprising and enlightening gem of a book that reexamines the history of one of America’s most beloved traditions. With her trademark wit, verve, and impeccable research, Denise Kiernan brings to full and vibrant life the characters and conflicts surrounding America’s day of gratitude, and shows us how we might all reclaim its stirring power.”—Karen Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of The Ghosts of Eden Park and Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy

"It might seem hard to imagine it now: a U.S. president and a newspaper editor conspiring to create a day of national unity. Kiernan brings to vivid life this forgotten tale of a ground-breaking female journalist finding her voice and her cause, despite heartache and hardship. This is the story of how our secular American holiday came to be - maybe the only day we can all agree on. It’s also a hopeful meditation on the history and power of gratitude itself - and a reminder that giving thanks can heal us in times of strife and division. We should all give thanks to Kiernan for rescuing this slice of Americana.”—Neal Thompson, author of A Curious Man and Driving With the Devil 

“Denise Kiernan is such a gifted writer, and her storytelling prowess is on full display in We Gather Together—an unputdownable American tale that could not be more timely.”—Gilbert King, Pulitzer prize-winning author of Devil in the Grove

"Packed with vivid character sketches, intriguing historical tidbits, and lucid meditations on the psychology of giving thanks, this unique chronicle casts [Thanksgiving] in a new light."Publishers Weekly

“Kiernan traces the history of the formalization of Thanksgiving Day while reframing the holiday’s sense of gratitude… [and] engagingly explores the economic, political, and cultural roots and consequences of holiday practice… a bright tribute to Thanksgiving’s expression of gratitude and grace.”—Kirkus Reviews
Product Details
ISBN: 9780593183250
ISBN-10: 0593183258
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: November 10th, 2020
Pages: 304