‘Home in America’ Review: Home Is Where the Guilt Is

Why do so many American academics believe that they must express contrition they don’t feel for sins they didn’t commit?

“I am haunted by home,” writes Thomas Dumm on the first page of “Home in America: On Loss and Retrieval.” “I am guessing that you are, too. Because home is where the ghosts are, that place full of the familiars of our common and separate pasts, the site of our deepest desires and fears.” As I write these words on the cusp of the holidays, millions of Americans are headed home, or to a place they once called home. What have Americans meant by the word? Mr. Dumm, a professor of political science at Amherst College, considers various ideas of home—the place one lives, the community or nation of one’s upbringing—in the writings...