Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River, has given us an important novel about America, one I am grateful to have at a time when many truths about our racial and social history are routinely obscured by crass politicking, wishful thinking and blatant lies. “People don’t want truth,” one character in The Given Day says, referring to an industrial accident that provides a convenient excuse for a government crackdown on political radicals in post–World War I Boston. “They want certainty . . . or the illusion of it.” In 2009 that sounds all too familiar.