This thesis proposes that 1 and 2 Kings might be read as a work of written history, produced with the explicit purpose of shaping the communal identity of its first readers in the Babylonian exile. For those readers, much of what it had meant to be Israel had been lost in the events of 587 BCE, including the temple, the land promised to the ancestors, and the Davidic king. By drawing on sociological approaches to the role historiography plays in the construction of political identity, I propose the book of Kings is intended to reconstruct a sense of Israelite identity in the context of these losses. I argue that the book of Kings moves beyond providing a reason for the exile in Israel’s history, and beyond even connecting its exilic audience to that history. The book recalls the past in order to demonstrate what it means to be Israel in the (exilic) present, and to encourage hope for the Israelite nation in the future. After developing a reading strategy for 1–2 Kings that treats the book as a coherent narrative, I examine the construction of Israelite identity within Kings under the headings of covenant, nationhood, land, and rule. In each case I argue that the narrative of the book creates room for a genuine but temporary expression of Israelite identity in exile: genuine to show that it remains possible for Israel to be Yahweh’s people during the exile, but temporary to encourage hope for a future restoration.